Mark and Myra Sorensen International Travel Scholarship

Sorensen Scholarship

Overview

The Mark and Myra Sorensen International Travel Scholarship is designed to support students who will participate in study, internship, volunteer, or research programs abroad. The scholarship's goal is to fund a diverse array of students, regardless of field of study. The Global Engagement and Education Abroad (GEEA) team at the International Center manages the Sorensen Scholarship.

Awards will be made in the amount of at least $750 to cover expenses such as program fees, transportation, room and board, and/or local excursions made in connection with the project. Scholarship awards are contingent upon the availability of funds.

Application Requirements

Eligibility Criteria

  • U-M Ann Arbor student, regardless of citizenship, enrolled in a degree program
  • Must be a rising sophomore or above
  • Must in good academic standing
  • Must be returning to campus for at least one semester prior to graduation
  • Open to both undergraduate and graduate students
  • Duration of international experience should be at least three weeks
  • Applicants may be assessed on demonstrated financial need.
  • Preference is given to students who will be traveling abroad for the first time.

Application Process for Winter 2023 Travel

The application is now available on M-Compass.

The online application requirements include:

  • Short statement of purpose, no more than 250-500 words, which should include the following:
    • Briefly describe the global experience for which you are seeking funding, including why you chose this opportunity and the goals of your proposed experience
    • How this global experience will benefit you personally, academically, and professionally
    • Previous travel abroad experience
    • How you plan to engage with your host community and will bring your experience back to U-M (or your home community) and share it with others
  • A budget sheet for your internship/research/volunteer program
  • Proof of acceptance into program: letter (or email) of invitation or acceptance into your program
  • Unofficial Transcript

Application Deadline

Application Deadline for Winter 2023 Travel: November 4, 2022

Scholarship Expectations

  • Recipients must comply with the University Travel Policy
  • Recipients must meet with an adviser (professional staff or student peer adviser) on the International Center’s Global Engagement and Education Abroad team at least once prior to the start of the project for pre-departure preparation.
  • In academic term following their experience abroad, recipients will be required to:
    • Meet with an International Center advisor
    • Write a brief reflective essay about their international experience & the impact it had on them
    • Express gratitude to the Sorensen Scholarship donor through a written thank-you note and attend potential donor/scholar celebration events.

Selection Process

A selection committee will review applications and make decisions to award the scholarship. Applicants may be assessed based on financial need.

Awardees' Reflections

2022

Peter Akande"This past May, with the support of the Mark & Myra Sorensen Scholarship, I was blessed to have the opportunity to study abroad in Barcelona, Spain for three weeks. During my time in the city, I took a class called Sports and Society in Spain and Catalonia, which focused on the history of athletic competition in the country, and more specifically, how its evolution has impacted the lives of Spanish and Catalan people socially, politically, and personally. The class also took us on a deep dive into the unique history of Catalonia, one of the country's 17 autonomous communities. This provided insight into the reasons that there is an existing divide between the Central Madrid and Catalan governments, and how that has manifested itself over time in a variety of ways in regards to culture and identity. One of the coolest traditions I was able to personally participate in was Correfoc in the city of Badalona. In English, correfoc means "fire-runs", which is a perfect description of the event. The tradition consists of designated participants dressing up as devils, lighting up fireworks, and others playing drums. Those who are daring enough have the freedom to get as close to these devils and fireworks as they please, but the fireworks are loud and even have the potential to burn you if you're not wearing proper clothing. Overall, it was a great experience, and we even got to chill by the Mediterranean Sea and dip our toes in the water after it had ended. As a native Michigander, living in an entirely different country with new people, new customs, and re-learning how to communicate in a language that I was very rusty with, I was forced out of my comfort zone immediately. As I aim to enter the world of management consulting post-graduation, my time in Barcelona affirmed the importance of being agile and acclimating to unfamiliar circumstances quickly, for both my personal and professional development. My biggest takeaway from the program was Barcelona's chill and relaxed nature, which is something that people from the city naturally embody. The combination of factors like the pace of life, the weather, and the ability to walk basically almost everywhere have stuck with me since my departure. Now, I try to build at least 2 hours of time per week into my schedule dedicated to low-stress, enjoyable hobbies I have, whether that's playing the piano, making pan con tomate, or hanging out with friends. Making the decision to study abroad was one of the best decisions of my life, and I can't wait to return to the city soon." – Peter Akande, Ross School of Business

Dani Tutak"Thanks to the Mark and Myra Sorensen scholarship, I was able to spend my summer participating in archaeological fieldwork with the UMMAA archaeology field school in northern Mongolia. This trip was a wonderful opportunity to learn firsthand about excavation, conservation, survey, Mongolian culture, and so much more. Work in the field generally meant excavation of previously looted burials and occasionally surveying the area for other sites but in the bigger picture it meant helping to preserve Mongolian history. Because of the degree of looting in Mongolia, almost all of the sites we were working at were heavily looted and any artifacts remaining were left in dangerous conditions exposed to the elements. Our work there alongside our Mongolian colleagues was to salvage artifacts, excavate any unlooted burials to protect artifacts, and keep them out of the black market. Outside of this important work, we had chances to learn about rural northern Mongolian culture that we were helping to preserve, including visiting local families' gers, attending a ceremony performed by a shaman where we had the opportunity to ask questions, horseback riding, attending the Naadam festival in Tsagaan Nuur, and visiting the National Museum of Mongolia. The chance to connect with my peers, Mongolian colleagues, and instructors during my time in the field was invaluable and I treasure the friendships I got the opportunity to make with all of them. I, along with my peers, challenged ourselves in many ways during this field school, be it harsh weather, sickness, uncertain schedules with early mornings and late nights, or adjusting to a new culture. I returned with new insights into how valuable cultural preservation is and how much of a positive impact that can have for the communities that we were working with. I am so thankful for this opportunity and I am truly taking to heart what I have learned to apply to my academics, career, and future relationships with new people, especially when getting to learn about new cultures." – Dani Tutak, Art & Design and LSA

Feaven Gebrezgi"The Mark and Myra Sorensen International Travel Scholarship provided me with the opportunity to travel abroad and live and learn in both Stockholm, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark! I spent my summer taking 3 different classes - Public Mental Health, African American Expats, and Public Health Policy in Practice. I always knew that I wanted to broaden my horizons in college and studying abroad provided me with the opportunity to do just that! The experience was something new and amazing, and a time that I’ll never forget. The atmosphere was welcoming and caring; I found myself exploring new parts of these cities each and every day, which took my learning to the next level. The lessons in the classroom were centered around what the students wanted to learn. This allowed me to truly find my passion for Public Health, especially centered around mental health advocacy and working with immigrant and refugee populations. Each week, we took trips to places such as castles, museums, healthcare facilities, immigrant and refugee centers, cafes, and restaurants, to not only apply our learning in a real life context, but also to immerse ourselves into the culture and history of the countries we were living in. This was a summer in which I not only learned things in the classroom, but also built skills and learned lessons that I will remember for the rest of my life. I've grown a new appreciation for independence, and built confidence to go to new places all on my own, and enjoy the time by myself. I've started to take more walks to clear my head, and write journals and blogs to help get my feelings out of my system. I'm also now a lover of discovering new places and appreciating the beauty of nature. As I was leaving Sweden, I realized how I had overcome many obstacles, how I did so many things this summer all on my own, and how much I admire the person I've become. This opportunity has impacted my life in the best way possible, and I hope to travel the world even more in the future!" – Feaven Gebrezgi, Public Health

2020

Emma Bohn"With the support of the Mark and Myra Sorensen International Travel Scholarship, I had the opportunity to spend just over two months studying business at the University of Sydney and exploring the vast country of Australia. I had always wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone and live and learn about business and life in another country. I was able to take two challenging international business courses and learn how business on the other side of the world is conducted. I also was given the opportunity to take two experiential learning classes about Australian culture through the outdoors and sports, it was absolutely incredible. The experiential learning classes allowed me to get outside the classroom and immerse myself in the Aussie lifestyle through attending important Australian sporting events and hiking the gorgeous national parks that are so important to the Australian people. I lived in an apartment complex with other international students from all over the world, spent time at local shops, cafes, and beaches, and learned to surf from a great group of locals. I grew so much as a person from this amazing experience. I am now more confident in myself, developed far better communication skills, and found my love for pushing my limits and learning in all scenarios. Before this opportunity if someone were to tell me I would leave my small community in Northern Michigan and spend time in a huge new city on the other side of the world and absolutely love it, I don’t know if I would have believed them. I left with lifetime friends, more knowledge and direction to help me pick a future career, and a new self confidence that I had been lacking beforehand. I cannot wait to get back to the school in the fall and bring my new business knowledge to the classroom and also share my experience and growth with my friends and family. I am so beyond grateful for my international experience and really believe that it helped me personally grow and that everyone should have the opportunity to live abroad when they are young. What I learned and personally accomplished while living on my own in Sydney are not things that I would have discovered had I not had the opportunity to go abroad. My experience in Sydney was more amazing than I could have imagined and I absolutely am taking what I learned from this experience into my academics, personal life, and future career." – Emma Bohn, Ross School of Business

2019

Shawn Farrell"With the support of the Mark and Myra Sorensen International Travel Scholarship I had the opportunity to travel to Copenhagen, Denmark and study at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) for four months.  During these four months I took four classes, lived with the most amazing host family, and traveled throughout Europe learning more about myself every step of the way. As a student in LS&A I’ve read about and studied faraway places having always been fascinated by different ways of life and with this study abroad experience I was able to live it, to see first-hand how a Dane gets to work, or what a favorite meal looks like, or how they cross the street. At DIS the professors teach what they do, which meant that my sustainable business strategies teacher was a sustainable business consultant for some of the largest companies in Europe and he gave invaluable insight into his job and what it takes to transform a company’s business model into a sustainable model. In my urban livability class, our teacher marched us out of the classroom onto the city streets and explained the transformation of a car-centric Copenhagen to a people-first Copenhagen, vastly changing how a Dane moves throughout the city. This sort of hands-on teaching brought my sustainable development class to Western Denmark and Norway where we met with environmental game changers, CEO’s, planners, and farmers who are changing the norm and driving the sustainable transition. It was in Denmark where my optimism grew and I realized I’m not alone in this environmental fight. And by far the best part of my study abroad experience was riding my bike home to my host family, to have 2-year old Frida come bounding down the hallway at me when I unlocked the door, the smell of Danish cooking floating through the apartment, and the sight of four other friendly smiles who always asked about my day in a foreign land. Studying abroad ignited two things within me, my passion for travel and my passion to protect our Earth and as I head into my final year at UM I look forward to learning and preparing for my future as a land planner and protector." – Shawn Farrell, LS&A

Bryan Leahy"I had an incredible experience in Lima, Peru over the summer thanks to the support of the Mark and Myra Sorensen International Travel Scholarship. For two months, I participated in Emzingo-U’s Global Impact Fellowship, a program which exposes students to consulting with an emphasis on social and environmental impact. I was drawn to this opportunity because of my desire to learn about the field of consulting and engage in meaningful, impact-driven work in a different country. In a cohort of eighteen students from various universities, we were split into teams and each team consulted for a social enterprise in the Lima region. I was able to work with a company that strives to benefit conservation in Peru by sourcing ingredients for food and cosmetic products from producers in protected regions of the Amazon. My consulting team was able to create a plan for the company to reach more customers and increase sales in a way that coheres with their mission. In many ways, I feel that this experience marked a turning point in my life. I learned so much about consulting, social enterprises, and myself. Living for two months in Lima and being able to explore the culture of this history-rich metropolis but also beyond in Cusco and Machu Picchu was surreal: my Spanish was tested, I was placed outside of my comfort zone at times, and I met some incredible people. With hands-on experience consulting for a small social enterprise now under my belt, I have become more mindful of what businesses, people, and passion can accomplish—this will allow me to apply my degree in a more meaningful and find a career that complements that. I was also able to hone my leadership and communication skills, making me feel confident in my ability to rise to my ambitions and the challenges I will face post-graduation. I now feel more strongly about the importance of international opportunities for students; the perspective and growth mindset I garnered over the summer is something I will continue to kindle for the rest of my life, both personally and professionally." – Bryan Leahy, LS&A, Economics

Barbara Tan"With the support of the Mark and Myra Sorensen International Travel Scholarship, I had the opportunity to travel to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to assist the nonprofit organization, Green Umbrella, with the development of their Waste Management Project and teaching English to grades K-6. As a student interested in helping others, and as a Cambodian myself, I was beyond excited to engage with the diverse community in Cambodia in a meaningful way. After a genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge left Cambodia’s economy and society in shambles, Green Umbrella has been working in an effort to re-establish the wellbeing of the country by improving the quality of education, particularly for children living in poverty, creating job opportunities for families with disabled members, and encouraging the youth to be future leaders. Every day, for three weeks, I spent most of my time collaborating with Green Umbrella’s Youth Group, which consists of highly motivated high schoolers, on the Waste Management Project. Currently, Cambodia has an enormous problem with the overaccumulation of waste in public and living spaces because of the absence of a reliable waste disposal system. The Youth Group and I taught students in public schools about the importance of recycling and composting, performed a community needs assessment in eleven villages surrounding Green Umbrella’s headquarters to better understand the problem, and wrote a research paper that was presented to the founder of Green Umbrella. It is hopeful that our findings are spread to and implemented in institutions across Cambodia to give rise to a clean and sustainable country. It was so inspiring to see the passion the students in the Youth Group had for making a difference in the world, as well as their appreciation for learning. I can say with confidence that Cambodia is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to. Now, I am determined to bring back my experience to the University of Michigan by encouraging everyone to reduce unnecessary consumption and recognize the problems that exist in their home communities. My involvement with Green Umbrella has not ended, as I am continuously fundraising with GlobeMed—a club on campus focusing on global health equity—to expand the organization’s influence. Although the people I worked with on the trip spoke a different language and grew up in a completely different cultural environment, their sense of compassion and initiative was evident. Overall, this opportunity has not only strengthened my desire to pursue a career in the medical field, it has also allowed me to resonate with my Cambodian roots." – Barbara Tan, LS&A, Biology

2018

Kathleen Ortiz-Tenesaca"With the support of the Mark and Myra Sorensen International Travel Award I had the opportunity to travel to Quito, Ecuador to teach students in subjects such as English, Reading, Math and Science through The Quito Project, a non-profit organization that works to minimize the achievement gap in low income zones by working with local communities and promoting global collaborations through education. I worked with the youngest age group, ages 6-8, while also working collaboratively with the other teachers to ensure the success of each group of students and to promote their interest in higher education. The program, conducted solely in Spanish, demanded punctuality, flexibility, patience and leadership. I was challenged to think critically about innovative and effective ways to teach my children in order to bridge the gap in their learning. But I think my greatest challenge was making sure they felt comfortable and safe in my class because many of them came from troubled and broken homes. I worked diligently to build relationships with each of my students and can honestly say I’ve never met a group of more genuine and loving kids. Now, back at Michigan I’m part of the Executive Board of The Quito Project, and I spend my time fundraising as the co-director of finance. I reach out to UofM departments, corporate sponsors and to the outside Michigan community. I work alongside my team to coordinate strategies for donation drives and fundraising tables to ensure we can provide all our resources for our students that are part of our summer program. Recently, we were able to raise over $1.5K on Giving Blueday and have been able to secure grants to provide our students with all the resources necessary such as notebooks, pencils, art supplies and science materials. This opportunity was fundamental to my growth and development not only as an aspiring agent of change within the Education field, but to dig deeper into my roots as a young Latina woman navigating through life." – Kathleen Ortiz-Tenesaca, LS&A

Contact Information and Advising

Students interested in the Sorensen Scholarship should contact the International Center at ic-abroad@umich.edu with questions. Education Abroad advising is available in the International Center by appointment throughout the fall and winter semesters. Appointment scheduling is available on the International Center’s website