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Three Thiel College Students Earn Vira I. Heinz Scholarships for 2013


GREENVILLE, Pa.—Three Thiel College women will be packing their bags for a summer abroad after earning Vira I. Heinz Scholarships for Women in Global Leadership, which were awarded in December 2012.

The three scholarship winners – Victoria Challingsworth of Central, Pa., Keeley Criswell of Bedford, Pa., and Grace Hildebrand of Greenville, Pa. – will each receive $5,000 from the Heinz Endowments to fund their study abroad experiences during summer 2013.

Challingsworth, a junior environmental science major with minors in chemistry and Spanish, will participate in the International Studies Abroad (ISA) program at the University of Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A self-described Spanish culture fanatic, Challingsworth will study Argentinian culture and language as well as environmental issues.

“You can only learn so much from books and in order to truly understand, one must travel,” says Challingsworth. “The VIH program interested me because it is a program that promotes the strength of women, gives them confidence and offers them the chance to open a door to a distant land that was previously closed.”

Challingsworth is a graduate of St. Marys Area High School. She is the president of the Environmental Club, a member of the History Club and a student worker at the Mouganis Instructional Media Center at Thiel. She is the daughter of Robert and Darla Challingsworth of St. Marys, Pa.

Criswell, a sophomore physics and computer science major, will attend the American Institute for Foreign Study’s program at the University of Salamanca in Spain where she will study Spanish language and culture, including cooking and folk dancing.

“Because I desire a position in physics research, it is important to have a global perspective,” says Criswell. “In the sciences, researchers from various countries must be able to interact with each other. The fact that I have been abroad and studied a foreign language will make me more marketable in my field.”

Criswell is a graduate of Chestnut Ridge Senior High School. She is editor-in-chief of The Thielensian student newspaper and a physics supplemental instruction leader as well as a member of the Outdoors Club and Shooting Club at Thiel. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Brad Criswell of Bedford, Pa.

Hildebrand, a sophomore international business and business administration double major, will use her scholarship to study at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, through International Studies Abroad. Hildebrand will take classes at the university while exploring the culture and history of the Czech Republic.

“[This program] will give me a chance to interact with people from another culture and see how things operate in another part of the world,” says Hildebrand. “Having an understanding of that is vital to my being successful in my major. It will give me the tools to expand my global perspective and to grow as a person.”

Hildebrand is a graduate of Reynolds High School. Hildebrand is involved in volunteer activities and tutoring at Thiel. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Hildebrand of Greenville, Pa.

Funded by the Heinz Endowments, the Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership prepares women for tomorrow's global challenges by offering a unique opportunity for international experiences, leadership development and community service. Each year, three women of sophomore and/or junior status are selected from each of 14 regional colleges and universities and admitted to the two-year leadership program. In addition, they participate in a series of retreats designed to cultivate leadership and intercultural skills and perform a community engagement experience.

The Heinz Endowment supports efforts to make southwestern Pennsylvania a premier place to live and work, a center of learning and educational excellence, and a home to diversity and inclusion. Committed to helping its region thrive as a whole community – economically, ecologically, educationally and culturally – the Foundation works within Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the nation to develop solutions to challenges that are national and international in scope.

About Thiel College

Thiel College is an independent college founded in the Lutheran tradition. Located in Greenville, Pa., the College offers 60 majors and minors, 24 varsity sports, and an 11:1 student-faculty ratio. The College is also home to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and graduate programs in, Business Administration, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Communication and Leadership, Physician Assistant and Speech-Language Pathology. All of Thiel College’s master’s degree programs offer innovative and accelerated five-year paths which allow students to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce outstanding graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College remains committed to diversity and inclusion. The College combines tradition with innovation as it honors its past and celebrates its future.

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