UT’s President’s Award for Global Learning finalists selected

Bonny Chu

Fourteen student finalist teams were selected for a grant to take on international projects to benefit and serve communities abroad.

The inaugural President’s Award for Global Learning, created by the International Office, will provide each team up to $25,000 and a fully funded trip to implement their projects across the world the following summer.

The teams are comprised of two to four students from different majors, one or two faculty mentors and an international partner. After choosing one of the seven regions to focus on, such as the Caribbean or North Africa, the theme of the project must either expand existing research, social impact or entrepreneurship. 

“This is a new and great opportunity for UT,” said Laurie Young, director of the special projects from the International Office. “Through this program, students and faculty are getting to work with international problems on addressing real-world problems.”

The projects picked range from working with the International Red Cross in Lebanon to studying the negative impacts of colorism in Ghana to developing an assessment that brings housing and medical care together in Mexico. 

There were a total of 28 proposals. There were 98 students representing 10 colleges and 64 faculty members representing 14 colleges. The team finalists, only two per region, were chosen to advance and pitch their projects to a panel of judges who later recommend them to UT President Gregory Fenves for the award.  

Psychology senior Patience Ojionuka is a finalist studying the taboo of mental illness and suicide in South Korea. She said she’s excited to see the potential of her project unfold, especially because it will have a real-world impact. 

“You might think of it as an enhanced study abroad, minus the studying and with more emphasis on product building or an impactful takeaway,” Ojionuka said.

Advertising senior Rebecca Chen, a finalist studying colorism in Ghana said she’s excited that she has the capability to change the world. 

“This program is a great opportunity for ambitious undergrads to collaborate … and bring a project to life,” Chen said. “Most importantly, this program has given me the opportunity to take part in something much larger than myself by hopefully impacting the world and moving the needle on a global issue.”