Tag Archives: international travel

Meet Erin Richie…

By Amy Karagiannakis

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Erin Riche and Maddy Duensing on their 5-week immersion experience in Ghana.

Erin Richie traveled to Ghana last summer with a cohort of students from the Global Leadership Pathway within the Pavlis Honors College. The team worked on numerous projects while in country, but Erin took the lead on the Women’s Health and Education project. In many developing countries, the subject of menstruation is still very much taboo. Many parents will not discuss menstrual hygiene with their daughters, which can lead to embarrassment and confusion. Without access to sanitary pads, many women use items such as newspaper, rags, and other materials that are not very efficient at absorbing and can cause infection. Girls will often miss several days of school each month while they are on their period to avoid the potential embarrassment of staining their clothes due to leakage. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), approximately 10% of African girls will quit school due to issues regarding menstruation. There are solutions available, but making them accessible to small villages, such as those Erin traveled to in Ghana, is difficult. Before leaving for Ghana, Erin first reached out to Diva Cup for donations. Diva Cup manufactures reusable menstrual cups that last several years and can be cleaned and sanitized using boiling water. The company agreed to donate 50 cups, as well as designed posters explaining proper care and use. Erin wanted to do more though. She new that 50 cups, while helpful, would eventually run out. Erin wanted to provide an alternative for the girls and women in the Ghanaian village that they could continue to utilize even after she had left. Using simple, low cost materials, Erin modified a pattern for a reusable menstrual pad that could be washed and then sun bleached. She wanted to offer workshops to teach girls and women how to make their own reusable menstrual pads providing the necessary materials. Through a connection with the nonprofit organization Women of the Pearl, Erin partnered with a local pastor and his wife in Ghana. The couple believed that when women are empowered, their children will prosper. They were very excited about the project and helped Erin solidify a location for her first workshop. The initial workshop was a success and the turn out was very encouraging. The demand for more workshops grew and Erin spent much of her time in country holding these workshops and teaching local women how to facilitate their own. These women could now make their own affordable, reusable pads, allowing them the protection to stay in school during their monthly cycle.

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From left to right: Bob Beynon, Maddy Duensing, Erin Richie, Amanda Vermeer, and Peter Seim in Ghana.

“I’m so thankful for all that I’ve been able to do by being involved with the Pavlis Honors College. Aside from learning about the culture, my time in Ghana also taught me how to be a better teammate. I’m so lucky to have had a great supportive team in Ghana and for all I was able to learn from them that I can apply to future experiences, as teamwork is not only an intricate part of becoming an engineer, but a valuable life skill,” reflected Erin. The next Pavlis Honors College Ghana team will be traveling this summer. They are currently raising money to purchase more materials and supplies to continue teaching Erin’s workshops in local villages. Donations to this and other causes can be made through Superior Ideas, a Michigan Tech crowdfunding site.

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Erin with fellow PHC students and young Ghanaian women who benefited from the workshops.

Erin returned from her immersion experience in Ghana a little less than a year ago, but her devotion to women’s health and education has only grown stronger. She will be spending two weeks this summer volunteering in Uganda with Women of the Pearl to continue her work, as well as contribute to other projects that empower women around the globe. Prior to her trip to Uganda, Erin will be studying abroad for six weeks in Peru to participate in some volunteer work and finish up her minor in Spanish. She will be living with a host family while in country, and hopes to find some time to visit Machu Picchu, Ica, and Iquitos. Erin will be graduating at the end of Fall semester 2017 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and minors in Spanish and Psychology.

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Erin at the Women’s Solidarity March across the Portage Lake Bridge on Jan. 21.

Erin’s interest in human centered design did not originate in Ghana. As a mechanical engineering major, Erin is passionate about designing and developing products that make daily work and life more efficient and enjoyable. Erin is currently leading the Human Factors Team for the Humane Interface Design Enterprise (HIDE) at Michigan Tech. HIDE is a student-run organization focused on software development and usability research. Erin is now working with the Undergraduate Student Government to develop an RFID voting booth in order to increase student involvement in surveys and elections. Starting in the Fall, Erin will become the co-president of HIDE.

Erin Richie and Nicole Mackey with PHC benefactor Frank Pavlis in Allentown, PA.
Nicole Mackey and Erin Richie with PHC benefactor Frank Pavlis in Allentown, PA.

Erin Richie is an active Honors Ambassador and works as an academic success coach on campus, as well as off campus as an elementary school STEM instructor through the GLRC.  She was recently awarded the Pavlis Honors College Dean’s Scholarship in the amount of $1000. Erin is the first recipient of this award, which was created to recognize Honors students like Erin who go above and beyond. The Pavlis Honors College Dean’s Scholarship will be awarded to one honors student annually in the amount of $1000 to recognize their outstanding commitment to our programs and pathways. Erin consistently volunteers her time to design, plan and implement recruitment efforts to grow the PHC community. She has taken a leading role to ensure the successful implementation of ideas and events. She goes above and beyond to engage with students and faculty on a meaningful level and continues to have a significant positive effect on College enrollment. Overall, Erin is passionate about the PHC and enthusiastically shares her passion with potential future Honors students whenever given the opportunity. On behalf of the entire PHC staff and faculty, I would like to congratulate Erin on her achievements and accomplishments. We could not be more proud of her and look forward to what her future holds.

 

 


Applications Now Being Accepted for Gilman Scholarship

GilmanThe Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program offers grants for U.S. citizen undergraduate students of limited financial means to pursue academic studies or credit-bearing, career-oriented internships abroad.  This type of experience prepares U.S. students for an increasingly global economy. The Gilman Scholarship seeks students from a diverse range of private and public institutions all over the country across all 50 states. The selection process is highly competitive. Good news for Michigan Tech students, the Gilman panel looks for STEM majors!

Benjamin A. Gilman, retired New York congressman and the scholarship’s namesake, once said, “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”

If you are interested in applying, visit the website here for more information. The deadline to apply for Summer 2017 and Fall 2017-18 is March 7th.


Meet Shelby Marter…

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By Amy Karagiannakis

Shelby is passionate about breaking down complex ideas for a variety of audiences to understand. “I like being the necessary ‘middle-man’ between technically-minded people and everyday folks,” explains Shelby. She knows that communication, problem solving and creativity all play an important role in being able to accomplish this successfully, which is why she became interested in technical communication at Tech.

Hailing from a small farming community in Pinconning, MI, Shelby is now in the fourth year of her BS in Scientific and Technical Communication. As she prepares for graduation and the next chapter of her life, she reflects back on her experiences here in the Keweenaw as well as her travels.

“As I look for a career, I’ve realized how important travel is to me; I really want to incorporate it into a future profession, and I think the Pavlis Institute helped push me in the right direction.”

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Shelby, along with five other Tech students, traveled to Malta last summer with the Pavlis Institute for Global Technological Leadership to carry out human-centered design projects with local community organizations and individuals. Through her team’s work, a research team from the University of Malta was able to connect with Michigan Tech students over solar water desalination units and their potential use in other Pavlis Institute project sites.

While in Malta, Shelby also worked with a local startup 3D printing company called Thought3D to develop a social media marketing plan as well as promotional ideas to help increase visibility throughout the community about their new product, Magigoo.

MagigooThis is similar to what Marter is now working on through her current technical writing internship for the Center for Technology and Training (CTT) in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering here at Michigan Tech. Roadsoft, a GIS-based transportation-infrastructure mapping software, is used by local agencies and road commissions to collect, store and analyze data. Shelby works with civil engineers, software developers, and a team of technical writers to deliver this software product & make sure that documentation and tutorials meet the needs of their customers. Through strategic marketing, promotional material production, and logo design, Shelby is putting her technical writing and communication skills to work before graduation.

27115281955_6cdd78ba86_hShelby has been the Business Analyst of the ITOxygen (ITO) Enterprise since Fall 2016. Housed within the Pavlis Honors College, Enterprise is student-driven, multidisciplinary teams that work like companies on real-world client projects, whether the deliverable is an innovative product, a pioneering solution, or a much-needed service. The hallmark of the Enterprise Program is the experiential education it provides to students. Currently, Shelby is working with her ITO team and the Work Life Committee at Michigan Tech to create a “Snow Day” app that will connect Michigan Tech faculty with local babysitters in the event that schools close due to snow. As the Business Analyst, Marter acts as the “bridge” between technical experts and the clients to make sure that the solutions ITOXygen develop truly help meet the client’s need.

In addition to her academic commitments, Shelby also works and volunteers in the community. Thanks to Shelby’s work with Canterbury House Campus Ministry, they won a United Thank Offering (UTO) grant from the Episcopal Church to further develop the organization’s English as a Second Language (ESL) tutoring program. Through her volunteer work at the Michigan Tech Multiliteracies Center as a writing coach, Shelby was able to help students prepare essays, presentations and other writing materials by providing supportive feedback. “This experience really helped me develop stronger editing skills, as well as learning how to deliver critical feedback to people who might be sensitive about my response.”

After Shelby’s five-week immersion experience in Malta with the Pavlis Institute came to an end, she spent an additional 7 weeks backpacking across Northern Europe exploring Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany. Shelby spent many sleepless nights on trains and buses navigating unfamiliar places and meeting new people. She stayed at Airbnbs and hostels which she found to be a very rewarding way to interact with locals and to learn insights about historic places that you can’t get from a guidebook.

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“It wasn’t really a vacation but traveling with a purpose; I was challenging myself to learn, absorb, and experience. The most important takeaway was that I became comfortable being uncomfortable,” reflected Shelby.

PorcupineIMG_1627While in the Keweenaw, Shelby enjoys running, hiking, watercolor painting, cheering on the Huskies at hockey games, and exploring the natural beauty of the U.P. Some of her favorite spots around the area include Bare Bluffs, Montreal Falls, and Redridge Dam.

Shelby was one of two students who traveled with Dean Meadows this past weekend to meet with PHC benefactor, Frank Pavlis in person. Dean Meadows, along with Shelby and Brad Turner paid a visit to Mr. Pavlis’ home in Allentown, PA.

 

 


Find Your Community, Follow Your Passion

By Kari B. Henquinet

When I was in college, I knew I wanted to make an impact somehow to address poverty in the world. I never imagined I would one day be a university faculty member or have a Ph.D. in anthropology. Now looking back, the path I took makes sense. But sometimes we can’t yet see the big picture, and step-by-step we try to follow our hearts mixed with a hardy helping of advice and support from those who have gone before us.

IMG_1929About 21 years ago, you could find me in a small town just outside of Arua, Uganda (East Africa) living in a mud hut with no electricity and learning to carry water on my head from the community bore hole. On one of my first trips to collect water there, I tried to engage in conversation with some of the young women I walked with. “Do you like school?” I asked. No response. “Are you in school?” I asked. No answer. Awkward moment. I smiled and kept walking, wondering what just happened. Later as I learned more, I realized that they had understood and responded to my questions, but I had failed to recognize the “yes,” which was communicated with raised eyebrows in this culture.

For six months of my senior year, I lived in this community with a Ugandan family, interned at a primary health care program, and conducted anthropological research for my senior project on health beliefs and practices in rural households in the area. This was a huge stretch for a girl who had grown up in a comfortable, largely white middle class suburb of Chicago. As you might imagine, my stint in Uganda was a life changing experience. I learned in ways that would have never been possible in a classroom environment or in my home society. I had been taking classes for three years at Wheaton College focused on international development, poverty, cultures, and health. Outside of the classroom in Uganda, though, I learned with my whole person, not just my head. Through many moments of frustration, I eventually accepted that I was going to be like an infant for a while, who did not know how to do the most basic things in life like communicate! I messed up a lot. I got sick sometimes. But I also laughed a lot (many times at myself!). I gained a lot of humility and confidence at the same time. I made some incredible friends in Uganda and was impacted by communal values of hospitality, respect, and cooperation that I carry with me to this day. I learned a lot about myself and the world through this experience.IMG_1930

At my undergraduate institution, I was part of a learning community called the Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) Program that was in addition to my major. This program required me to write regular reflections on what I was learning and to conduct research while abroad. It was this combination of building a community of scholars, diving into total cultural immersion, and doing reflection and research around my major fields of study (anthropology and biology) that made this experience so impactful and my learning go deeper than it ever had before. I carried the model of immersive experience and reflection with me as I went on to work as an international development professional in Niger (West Africa) and later conducted research in Niger through cultural immersion for my Ph.D.

I know from my own life that the model of building a community of scholars, immersive experience, reflection, and carrying out research or projects in one’s major field are powerful. But I am not alone. The Association of American Colleges and Universities researchers have identified a set of now widely recognized high impact educational practices that have been demonstrated to increase student retention and engagement as well as correlate with deep learning. Among them are: diversity and global learning, service learning, community-based learning, internships, capstone projects, undergraduate research, and learning communities. These practices are central to the Pavlis Honors College curricula. You can find your community here and stretch yourself in new directions. Our honors communities can be that support you seek to follow your heart and develop your passions into a fulfilling and impactful career path.

 

 


Cultural Vistas Opportunities

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Photo from Cultural Vistas.

Application season for the Cultural Vistas’ fellowship programs is now open. Several fully-funded programs for various students and professionals are available.

Sophomores and juniors who have not participated in a formal work or study abroad program, may want to consider the Cultural Vistas Fellowship. The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals is a great opportunity for students and recent graduates (18-24 years old) in all fields, who wish to live, study, and intern in Germany. The Alfa Fellowship Program to Russia and the Robert Bosch Foundation Fellowship Program are great for early- to mid-career professionals, who wish to gain high-level experience abroad.

These fellowships are international initiatives that offer accomplished Americans the opportunity to complete fully-financed professional development. For details, please refer to the eligibility requirements outlined on each program’s website.


Michigan Tech Ranked #18 for Return on Investment

michigan-technological-universityReturn on investment or ROI compares the cost of a college education with what that graduate can expect to earn. Bestcolleges.com recently released a report on the 50 best colleges and universities in terms of ROI. With a 30-year net ROI of just under $1,000,000, Michigan Tech ranked 18th in the nation. This number is calculated by taking the average net earnings a graduate can expect to make over a 30 year period and subtracting the cost of their education.

Find out how the Pavlis Honors College can help make that number grow. Our Scholars and Leaders Programs prepare students for success after graduation. We address society’s need for graduates who possess both depth of knowledge in their chosen field and intellectual breadth obtained through interdisciplinary collaboration, experiential learning and deliberate reflection. Graduating with recognition from the Honors College provides students with what Frank Pavlis calls the “plus factors” that put them at a noticeable advantage above their peers when applying for jobs.

Read the full report from Bestcolleges.com.


Peace Corps Information Session

Peace Corps volunteers are making a difference all over the world in areas of education, health and the environment. Want to find out how you can get involved with the Peace Corps here at Michigan Tech? Stop by the info session Thursday, March 24th at 5pm in Fisher 125. Learn more about the benefits of service and how you can live, work and learn overseas following graduation. For more information, feel free to contact Brett Heimann.

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$15,000 Scholarship to Study in Ireland

Ireland Scholarship

Go Overseas just announced that they are sponsoring two scholarships for students to study abroad in Ireland for a semester. One undergraduate and one graduate student will win a scholarship for $15,000. The scholarship must be used during the 2016/2017 academic year (Summer 2016, Fall 2016, and Spring 2017). Click on this link to apply now, because the deadline is March 4th!

 


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There will be a general meeting for Michigan Tech’s Engineers Without Borders chapter Thursday, February 11th at 6pm in Dillman 214.

Engineers Without Borders is an international philanthropy organization. By joining Michigan Tech’s EWB chapter you will learn to use a variety of skills to improve the lives of communities in need around the world. Michigan Tech’s chapter is currently working on well projects in Guatemala and a water distribution project in Panama, with both teams planning on traveling in the next year. Don’t let the name of the organization deter you from joining if you aren’t an engineer. EWB is looking for anyone interested in making a difference in people’s lives, regardless of major. Scientific and Technical Communication, business, language, and biology majors, to name a few, are all welcome. There are opportunities for experience in water resources, Spanish, technical writing, communication, engineering, team building and much more.
If you are interested in learning more about Engineers Without Borders, please attend the upcoming meeting in Dillman 214 at 6pm on Thursday, February 11th. If you can’t make it, feel free to email the chapter president (smbeine@mtu.edu) with any questions!