The Coca-Cola Foundation has awarded $150,000 to the Study Abroad Office at The University of Texas at Austin to provide about 45 scholarships for first-generation college students to study in China.
The grant supports President Barack Obama's "100,000 Strong Initiative," a public-private partnership that aspires to send 100,000 American students to study in China over the next four years. Currently, fewer than 15,000 American students study in China. The program has a particular emphasis on providing opportunities to students from traditionally underrepresented populations.
Recognizing that education is key to cross-cultural understanding, The Coca-Cola Foundation was one of the first U.S. companies to support Obama's vision with a $1 million pledge. The university is one of six institutions chosen by Coca-Cola to receive funding in conjunction with the "100,000 Strong Initiative."
The Coca-Cola Foundation and the university share a long-standing commitment to supporting students who are first in their immediate families to go to college. Since 1993, The Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship program has provided more than 1,300 scholarships to first-generation college students around the country. In addition, more than 300 students have attended the university through the Coca-Cola Scholars program.
"Our goal is to make study abroad accessible to all students," said Study Abroad Director Heather Barclay Hamir. "Studying abroad provides benefits that affect individuals' career paths and perspectives on the world, and increases their likelihood of graduating from college. The generous support of the Coca-Cola Foundation allows us to improve access to study abroad opportunities in China while also increasing the likelihood that we can retain and graduate these students."
In 2010, 148 students studied in China on university programs that ranged from studying supply chain management in Hong Kong to learning about traditional Chinese medicine in Yunnan. The length of a program can vary from a short-term, faculty-led option to a year of study at a Chinese university for a full-immersion experience.
"Knowledge of other countries and cultures is critical for the next generation of leaders," said Janet Ellzey, vice provost for international programs. "China is and will continue to be a global power, and thus it is particularly important for our students to study there. The University of Texas at Austin and the International Office are honored to receive this significant grant from Coca-Cola and are confident that the scholarships will enable students to participate in life-changing learning experiences in China."