January 17, 2014
Northampton Community College is one of the first four colleges and universities in the country selected to receive grants to participate in President Obama's 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative to increase study abroad between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean.
The announcement was made following a news conference at the State Department on January 17 in which Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the importance of international partnerships to foreign policy and to economic development.
Northampton's president, Dr. Mark Erickson, and Dr. Manual Gonzalez, director of international programs at Northampton, were both at the State Department for the announcement, as was Dr. Orlando Velásquez Benites, the rector (president) of the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo, the university in Peru with which Northampton will partner.
The grant will give students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics at Northampton the opportunity to participate in a summer study abroad program devoted to bringing sustainable energy systems to a remote area of Peru.
Students undertook a similar project last summer with guidance from faculty members Christine Armstrong and Dan Philips. It is expected that the expansion of the program may provide a model for other community colleges looking to enrich the educational experience of science, technology, engineering and mathematics students and to provide more international experiences for their students.
The goal of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas program is to increase the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America and the Caribbean by 100,000 and the number of students from those regions studying in the United States by 2020.
More than 100 proposals from the nine eligible countries were received in the first round of the grant competition. In addition to Northampton's partnership with the Universidad Nacional de Trujillo, the others chosen for funding were the University of Arizona and Pontifica Universidad Católica de Peru and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago; the University of North Texas and the Universidad de Magallanes and the Institute for Ecology and Biodiversity; and the University of Rhode Island and the Pontificia Universidad Catolica in Chile.
"We are honored and excited to be selected," said Northampton's president, Dr. Mark Erickson. "Our proposal rose to the top of 114 applications from some of our nation's finest colleges. It fosters sustainabilty, enhances service learning, and encourages STEM students to study abroad. It aligns perfectly with our strategic priorities. Expanding global engagement is important for students and for the nation."
The 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative is a joint endeavor by the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, and NAFSA: the Association of International Educators. Funding has been provided by both the public and private sectors, including the Founding Donors Santander Universities, a Divison of Santander Bank, the ExxonMobil Foundation, Contributing Partners of The Coca-Cola Foundation, the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.
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