Study abroad scholarship commemorates Riddle

MEGAN WENDT

mewendt09@ole.augie.edu

 

To honor the memory of former associate dean of students, the Tracy Riddle Memorial Scholarship will take effect this academic year to assist students wishing to study abroad.

Dean of Students Jim Bies said the scholarship, which will supply approximately $500 in aid to eligible students, stems from the value Riddle placed on “expanding one’s horizons beyond your own comfortable borders.”

Bies recalled having a number of conversations with Riddle regarding the highest impact learning experiences available to college students. Through those conversations, the pair discussed the intellectual growth that international study promotes.

The concept of such growth has been supported by research, such as that done by Joshua S. McKeown, director of international education and programs and instructor in the global and international studies department at the State University of New York Oswego, who claims that such growth is even higher among first time international travelers in his book “The First Time Effect.”

Bies said Riddle readily displayed the value she placed on such international experiences during her time at Augustana in a plethora of ways. For example, she encouraged the college to purchase what is now the Global Education House, where international students and Augustana students interested in international travel reside together.

“She really picked up the vision of [the Global Education House] and just ran with it and caused it all to come together,” Bies said. “Ultimately then, when it came time to name the house, the Global Education House really was the name that she conjured up. And so I always tend to view the Global Ed house as being synonymous with Tracy’s vision.”

Senior and Global Education House liaison Michael Dulitz is a second year resident of the house and said that Riddle had her eyes on the building from the moment the former owners – the Ronald McDonald House – hinted at the possibility of obtaining a new facility.

“Her vision with it was to have international students, study abroad students who had just returned, and then American students who hadn’t ever been abroad living together, which has for the most part been the case,” Dulitz said.

In addition to fostering international study at Augustana, Riddle also led Augustana students abroad to developing nations where they could experience their own growth firsthand. Bies recalls Guatemala being one of Riddle’s favorite locations.

“Guatemala really tripped Tracy’s trigger relative to the role of women artisans in developing countries and these women from impoverished backgrounds, and how they applied their craft to be productive and generate income for the family,” Bies said.

He also recalled Riddle’s passion for fairly traded products created by such women and her interest in sharing that passion with others here in the United States.

She did so by volunteering regularly at Ten Thousand Villages, a store in downtown Sioux Falls that sells only fairly traded products.

As a result of Riddle’s passion for international study and her desire as associate dean of students to help those facing obstacles, students must meet three requirements to be eligible for the scholarship.

Coinciding with Riddle’s belief in the impact of first time study abroad experiences, students receiving the scholarship must be first-time international travelers.

Additionally, to honor Riddle’s strong interest in developing nations, eligible students must pursue an educational experience in a developing country.

Lastly, the scholarship will be awarded to students who otherwise could not afford to participate in a study abroad program. Bies attributes this stipulation to Riddle’s strong desire to assist students who faces challenges.

“Tracy was a champion for students who were confronting barriers and, as you can imagine, studying abroad has a financial price tag on it that can really serve as a barrier,” Bies said. “So we really felt that the scholarship should also be used for a student who otherwise, without the scholarship, wouldn’t be able to afford to participate in the program.”

As a tribute to Riddle’s hard work, support and memory, residents of the Global Education House will host a dinner for members of both the dean of students and student services offices at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 19. A plaque with her name, title, date of passing and favorite Bible verse, Jeremiah 29:11, will be dedicated at the dinner.

“It’s kind of an informal way of dedicating it,” Dulitz said. “I think she would appreciate it.”