IIE Grant Awarded to JMU


Article By: Gabriela Baker

As part of Generation Study Abroad, the Institute of International Education (IIE) has awarded the IIE Generation Study Abroad Grant to James Madison University in honor of the school’s efforts through the Center for Global Engagement (CGE) to expand the opportunities held within international affairs. JMU was one of only 10 campuses to be awarded the grant, from which the CGE presented six students with an IIE Scholarship to partake in any study abroad program of their choosing over the summer of 2018.

A large proportion of university students across the country have struggled finding the means to facilitate a study abroad program into their class schedule and yearly income, and therefore feel discouraged to apply or even consider one. This new scholarship implemented by the CGE is specifically geared towards relieving those restrictions that hold underrepresented student populations from studying abroad, increasing the liberty encompassed within study abroad programs.

Sophia DeRieux

"Studying abroad has widened my grasp of the workings of the world and has further solidified my belief in the importance of international affairs," DeRieux said.

Sophia DeRieux, for instance, is a junior International Affairs major and student-athlete, whose athletic schedule alongside course requirements wouldn’t typically allow for a study abroad opportunity to be taken throughout the semester. However, with the IIE scholarship, she attended the Russian in Moscow short-term program during June 2018, taking two classes of Russian to help fulfill her minor and returned to the States before summer sport commitments even began. 

“I wanted to become as fluent as possible in Russian. It was a small goal I feel, but I most definitely achieved it,” DeRieux said, exemplifying the opportunities CGE provides to JMU athletes.

Jésus Armenta represented another underrepresented study abroad population as a first-generation college student, whose study abroad experience increased visibility for that less-considered demographic.

“Everything I experienced I wouldn’t have been able to experience,” senior Psychology major Armenta said, who attended the Scandinavia short-term study abroad program. “I could have still gone with loans but I would have gone with a feeling of guilt attached. With the grant, I knew I was covered.” 


Armenta and other JMU students exploring the Six Forgotten Giants, discovering a Copenhagen sculptor's efforts to bring art out of a museum and into nature.

For other recipients, the scholarship allowed them to experience international territories for the very first time. 

“I had never left the country prior to this trip, so one of the biggest takeaways I got was how important it is to put yourself out there and take risks, junior Communication Sciences major Rebekah Jones said, who attended the short-term Honors study abroad program in London. 


Through her short-term study abroad program, Jones explained, "I was able to focus on one specific topic which is unlike any other class I have taken."

“I initially did not think I would get accepted or be able to go. The next thing I know I’m getting a scholarship to help make my dream possible,” Jones said.

The exposure to international cultures and experiences can change any student’s life, but especially those who may feel restricted within their means. The IIE scholarship furthers CGE’s mission to provide the opportunity to the underrepresented populations of the JMU community, breaking down barriers of financial restrictions, first-generation difficulties, and class constraints, and making way for all members of the JMU community to attain a global experience.

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Published: Thursday, July 19, 2018

Last Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2020

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