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SAS Davis Scholarship Impacts Students' View of the World

Davis Scholars on the Fall 2013 voyage had the opportunity to meet the couple behind the scholarship: l-r: Sarah Holmes, Samantha Tetrault, Laura Pastores, Gale Davis, Shelby Davis, Abylay Tyurebayev. (Photo by SAS Photographer Bryan Koop)

Studying abroad with Semester at Sea was not something Laura Pastores considered, but thanks to a scholarship she received, Laura has had the chance to experience drumming and dancing in Ghana, tango in Argentina and so much more in the 15 countries the Fall 2013 voyage has visited.

‚ÄúThe fact that I was able to join SAS because of someone‚Äôs generosity has made me appreciate each day I have on this program,‚Äù said Laura. ‚ÄúFor starters, it made studying abroad possible and so much lighter on my parents’ finances.‚Äù

Laura is one of the Davis Scholars on the Fall 2013 voyage.  Shelby Davis is the founder of the Davis United World College Scholars Program, which funds hundreds of students from around the world to attend U.S. colleges and universities. The idea of the Davis Scholars Program is to help foster global awareness and understanding among the international students who attend U.S. colleges and the U.S. students who they meet and befriend. To date, the program has provided scholarships to nearly 5,000 recipients from 147 countries attending 90 U.S. colleges.

The same premise for the goal of the Davis UWC Scholar Program holds for Davis’ SAS-based scholarships. “Semester at Sea is a program that has struggled financially at times but has been alive 50 years, and I think it is worthy of support,” Davis said.

Perhaps even more interesting is that Davis is not an SAS alumnus. He and his wife, Gale, just recently discovered SAS through a former high school classmate, Grant Hellar (F ’99), who had sailed on SAS as a lifelong learner. After meeting with ISE President Les McCabe, joining the parents’ reception before the arrival of one of the voyages in San Diego, and then visiting and sailing on the MV Explorer during the Spring 2013 voyage, Davis saw the connections between ISE’s mission and that of his own organization.

“Semester at Sea widens your orbit,” he said. “It gives you a feeling of competence to travel, it gives you courage, and it hopefully then gives you conviction to wanting to help the world.”

The Davis scholarship program began on the Spring 2013 voyage and was expanded on the Fall 2013 voyage to include scholarships for gap-year students from United World College high schools around the globe and a handful of U.S. high schools.  Laura, who hails from the Philippines, is a Davis UWC Scholar attending Westminster College in Missouri, from where she will graduate this spring. Abylay Tyurebayev, another SAS-Davis scholar, also attends Westminster College. Sarah Holmes and Samantha Tetrault are two of the gap year students who are Davis Scholars on this 50th anniversary voyage. (Read more about them in the Gap Year story.)

“Without the scholarships I received, through both SAS and Shelby Davis, I would not be studying abroad right now,” said Samantha, who will attend NYU this spring.

Sarah, who will attend Miami University in Ohio, agreed. “I am so thankful to the Davis Family for awarding me a scholarship, and my boarding school, Westminster (in Connecticut) for selecting me from the class of 2013 to attend Semester at Sea. This has been an amazing opportunity for me to learn in a global classroom. I would never have imagined that I would travel to so many countries my first year of college.”

Laura’s experience is even more global. “When I first brought up the idea of me studying abroad on my senior year in college, my friends from Westminster thought I was crazy because…I am technically already “studying abroad” just by being an international student at an American college,” she said.

‚ÄúNow that my SAS adventure is coming to a close, I cannot imagine not having gone on this program. I really, really wanted to see the world. I can honestly say that choosing to go on this study abroad program has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. The incredible experiences I’ve had these past four months warrant the use of superlatives: most amazing, most fun, most eye-opening. There are not enough words to express how thankful I am that I received the SAS Davis Scholarship for this voyage! It’s amazing what kindness and generosity other people can offer and have it impact another’s life.‚Äù

Laura and the other Davis scholars had the opportunity to thank Davis and his wife in person when they sailed on the Fall 2013 voyage between Argentina and Brazil.

Scholarships and financial aid from the Institute for Shipboard Education(ISE), the nonprofit organization that operates SAS—make these voyages possible for dozens of students every semester the MV Explorer sails. In fact, on this Fall 2013 voyage alone ISE awarded $2,508,000 in scholarship funding to students. The Davis scholarship is one part of that.

“ISE is committed to making sure that all students who want to participate in Semester at Sea have the opportunity to do so,” says Mike Zoll, ISE’s vice president of academic and student affairs. “Everyone—regardless of their financial situation—should be able to be a part of this experience.”

If you would like to learn more about setting up a scholarship that directly impacts the lives of students please contact Richard Watkins, Vice President of Advancement at 434-243-4375.

Fall 2013 Comms Team workstudy student, Tom Bertrand, contributed greatly to the reporting of this story.

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