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Meet SAS Spring 2016 Voyage IMPACT Scholars

IMPACT Programs are Semester at Sea field programs which offer a unique cultural insight into the host country through people-to-people interaction, non-governmental organization visits, home-stays and service opportunities.  These programs enable Semester at Sea students to envision the potential for change in the world. Each semester, Semester at Sea selects five IMPACT Scholars. This semester, students, Alexandra Waynick, Christian Lowe, Fiorella Yriberry, Megan Gieske, and Wenlu Zheng, were selected from over one hundred applicants.  The IMPACT Scholars and advisors, Lindsay Parise from the field office and Elizabeth Hinderks from the student life office, help other Semester at Sea students realize their own potential to influence the world. Through participating in IMPACT Programs, organizing on-ship IMPACT, and communicating with the field office, communications team, and Semester at Sea partners, the IMPACT Scholars want to give Semester at Sea students the opportunity for greater understanding, increased knowledge, and deeper awareness of global issues.


Meet our IMPACT Scholars


Alexandra Waynick

Alexandra Waynick 2I am from San Diego, CA and, go to school at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. My passion for service started in 2010 when I embarked on my first mission trip to the third world country of Haiti. My experience in Haiti was life changing and since then service has become a huge part of my life.  From international mission work in Haiti and Mexico, to feeding the homeless population in my hometown of San Diego, and tutoring underprivileged children in Chicago, I have seen firsthand just how vast the need is for service.  Service learning has been a significant part of my studies at DePaul University as a Community Service Scholar. When I heard about the IMPACT scholarship program, I was excited by the possibility of engaging in service work throughout my journey around the world with Semester at Sea.  I aspire to engage in the cultures, interact with the local people, and learn about the issues of each country we visit. I hope to disembark the ship with a greater global understanding and be equipped with the knowledge I need to more effective in serving those in need. As an Impact Scholar, I hope to be a global agent of change.

Christian Lowe

Christian LoweI am a loud and proud student at Texas A&M University in my final year as an International Studies major. I have always had a heart for those less fortunate than myself and for those who are socially marginalized.  Since my sophomore year, I have had the pleasure of being a leader in a campus organization called International Justice Mission, which is dedicated to combating the issues facing the world’s poor, such as human trafficking and forced labor.  Being an IMPACT Scholar has meant to so much to me because I see it as a way of breaking past the boundaries of the classroom, where service is only talked about, and being able to actually get out there and do it, engaging with the struggles of individuals and their communities around the world on a personal level.

Fiorella Yriberry

Firoella Yriberry 3As a Semester at Sea student, I hope to gain experience in dealing with global issues in their real atmospheres.  By studying the same problems in different cultures and understanding how they deal with those issues, I will learn what works and doesn’t work for some cultures, and experience ways in which local organization can learn from abroad.  This is all in a desire to develop a more comprehensive global scheme on the state of food security. As well as gaining global citizenship values and principals, strengthening servant leadership qualities, I want to gain my own voice, my mantras as an agent of change. I want to test them and to live through them. Service learning is important to me because it allows me to connect with my surroundings, my community, and my fellow peers in an interactive way.  Service learning triggers the desire to question the state of things, and gives me that fire, an impulse to make a change based on the struggles of the people around me — those that through continues service become your own. It opens a door of knowledge and “first hand” experiences to what is hurting, what is affecting the system, and what feedback can be provided by the ones affected.  I find service vital since it introduces new, multiple perspectives to the same issue. My critical thinking skills are fed. I’m challenged to try again to make an impact and to leave my mark on someone, something, or both.

Megan Gieske

Megan GieskeIn 2014, I first left my home of Newton, New Jersey, to teach English as a second language at an Indian orphanage for the daughters or prostituted women. While there, I helped promote the Indian NGO, Bright Morning Star Society, the orphanage is under through writing and photography. Since then, I have worked as a freelance writer and photographer for Threedom Front interviewing prostituted women and the men who prostitute them, and as a freelance writer on Aspiration Media’s national film campaign promoting Noble women. One of my interview on Rachael Hatley won a $10,000 grant-award for her to continue providing food for the inner-city of Tulsa, O.K. For me, the use of language, whether writing or teaching English as a second language, has the capability to restore the voices of women and children who may have been born into cultures that denied them the power and tenor of their own voices. I applied for the IMPACT scholarship to learn the best practices of advocacy by visiting different countries and seeing what’s appropriate for that culture to address social issues. I want to be a globally conscious traveler, and with the comparative nature of Semester at Sea, my hope is that I’ll be able to draw Western attention and compassion to at-risk women and children.

Wenlu Zheng

Wenlu ZhengI’m from Zhejiang University, China. By being an IMPACT Scholar, I want to learn more about children’s education and traditional art from firsthand experience, and pass on the information back to China to let more Chinese people reach out and help.During sophomore year, I organized a voluntary committee that visited and accompanied children with leukemia at Hangzhou Children’s Hospital. During my tenure, I improved the management of the committee and encouraged people to build up long-term companionship with the children as opposed to just coming and taking pictures.I also organized a field trip for the students of my college, during which the participants visited the China National Museum, and interviewed craftsmen making Chinese traditional artifacts. We found that what those craftsmen really cared about was not promoting the quality of their life, but their traditional skills, craft-making, which are in danger of disappearing. Their offspring wouldn’t like to take over the craft-making, and few people have paid attention to the inheritance of traditional crafts-making. Crowdfunding is quite popular in China now, and there are more ordinary Chinese people want to donate a small sum of money to helping other people to achieve their goals. So I am willing to contribute myself to exploring the true needs of certain people and cultures, and to gaining attention from China.


  • Culture
  • Finances & Budgeting
  • Service

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