GlobaLinks Learning Abroad Announces Javahnda Kea, Georgia State University Student, As 2012 Alumna Of The Year

Kea secured study abroad scholarships to make possible a semester abroad at Korea University and her first travel and cultural experiences outside the South.

By Stacey Hartmann
GlobaLinks NewsWire Editor
Javahnda Kea

Javahda Kea (center with plaque) receives her 2012 Alumna of the Year award from GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, presented by Cynthia Banks, right. Javahnda's mother and brother also attended.

Javahnda Kea initially thought study abroad wasn’t for someone like her, a full-time student from a low-income family working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Her perception changed, however, after attending a study abroad seminar where she met a student who had studied in Japan for a year completely on scholarships and grants.

“Their story of overcoming the financial challenges inspired me to stop making excuses for why I could not do the same,” she said during her acceptance speech for the GlobaLinks Learning Abroad 2012 Alumna of the Year award presented on May 31 during at the House of Blues in Houston. “It became clear I needed to start setting in motion how to make my dream to travel a reality just like they did.”

So Kea, now a senior studying marketing and international business at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business, got right to work. She spent months researching and applying to different programs, writing scholarship essays and waiting for responses.

“The answer to my prayers came in many ways,” she said.

First, she got accepted to the Fall 2011 semester abroad program she wanted at Korea University in Seoul through GlobaLinks Learning Abroad. Most importantly, she received several significant scholarships: the Benjamin A. Gilman scholarship for $5,000, her university’s International Education Fund scholarship for $1,500, Globalinks Learning Abroad’s Diversity Scholarship for $1,500 and a $500 bonus award for being a Gilman Scholar. When she paired these with  government grants HOPE and PELL that she’d already received for schooling, she had more than $14,000 to apply toward her plane ticket, tuition, and living expenses abroad.

“The fear of going to a school overseas, which costs three times as much as I normally pay for school, was no longer a concern for me,” she said. “There was nothing holding me back now.”

Kea “is a prime example of a student who made the most of study abroad scholarship and funding opportunities so she could explore beyond her life in the U.S. and discover not only Korea but her own career path toward working in the foreign service,” said Cynthia Banks, executive director and president of GlobaLinks Learning Abroad. “Since returning home, she has been an active volunteer in study abroad on her campus, and we look forward to seeing her share her enthusiasm for international education while serving as our Alumni Association president.”

As part of the award, Kea received financial support for lodging and registration for the May 27-June 4 NAFSA annual conference, the world’s largest gathering of professionals in international education and exchange. Kea will serve as president of the GlobaLinks Learning Abroad Alumni Association.

“This kind of opportunity is something every student should have,” Kea said, “no matter his or her race, background, or financial situation.”

The company also announced that Molly Dupuis, a Carthage College student who studied abroad at Queensland University of Technology, is runner up for the 2012 award and will serve as vice president of the Alumni Association. Dupuis’ award application video impressed the GlobaLinks Learning Abroad committee, which each year selects the award recipients based on their applications and video essays.

The goal of the Alumna/Alumnus of the Year award is to encourage and support the next generation of professionals working in the field, which encompasses college and university professionals developing and evaluating programs, employees and overseas staff of program providers, government employees, researchers and related service providers, among others.

Kea is the sixth recipient of the Alumnus/Alumna of the Year award. Previous winners include Leslie Pitman of Queens University of Charlotte (2011), Emily Nagle of Elmhurst College (2010), Kimberly Iona of Chapman University (2009), Michelle “Shelly” Jackson of Furman University (2008), and Kelsey McNichols of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities (2007).

For more information on the alumni programs of GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, visit the Alumna/Alumnus of the Year page or learn about the alumni group on Facebook.

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