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The student leaders of the Delaware Diplomats Council attended the UD Global Festival last fall, one of many on-campus global opportunities.
The student leaders of the Delaware Diplomats Council attended the UD Global Festival last fall, one of many on-campus global opportunities.

The diplomatic way to pay for study abroad

Photos courtesy of Sally Bornhorst and Cesar Caro

UD offers financial opportunities for students to reach their study abroad dreams, via Delaware Diplomats program

When it comes to study abroad affordability, the University of Delaware’s mission is simple:

If your goal is to study abroad, our goal is to help get you there,” said Matt Drexler, director of study abroad in UD’s Center for Global Programs and Services. “We know that cost can be a barrier for students, but the University of Delaware is committed to making it easier for those who want to explore the world beyond our beautiful campus.”

To make study abroad more accessible, UD helps connect students with a variety of internal and external scholarships, awarding up to $1 million in aid each year. A signature program in this effort is the Delaware Diplomats Scholarship Program, created in 2014 to help students earn up to $1,500 in awards towards future study abroad while engaging with the global community and international perspectives on-campus. Over the past decade, the program has supported over 400 students and granted more than $350,000 to help fund their study abroad dreams.

The fall application deadline for Delaware Diplomats is Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.

Students who apply to the Diplomats program are often drawn by the financial benefits, which are credited to their student accounts when they commit to a study abroad program. However, many find that in addition to helping cover program costs, being a Delaware Diplomat offers many opportunities to develop a global mindset and better prepare for their time abroad. 

“Delaware Diplomats is a really great opportunity for students to have intercultural experiences here on campus before going abroad,” said Desirae Wright, a study abroad coordinator at UD who works closely with students in the program.

UD student Sally Bornhorst admired the colorful buildings amongst the cliffs as the sun was setting in Cinque Terre, Italy. She went there on a trip during her 2022 fall semester in Madrid, Spain.
UD student Sally Bornhorst admired the colorful buildings amongst the cliffs as the sun was setting in Cinque Terre, Italy. She went there on a trip during her 2022 fall semester in Madrid, Spain.

Scout-style, this program is structured around three badges students can earn: the Intercultural Friendship badge, the World Knowledge badge, and the Study Abroad Preparation badge — each worth $500. Eligible activities range from attending a guest lecture or International Coffee Hour, mentoring an international student, or even simply creating a packing list for their trip.

Students who complete the entire program earn a total of $1,500 toward their study abroad program. To use these funds, students must earn their badges before the application deadline of their intended program.

But students do not have to plan every detail of their study abroad program before applying to the Delaware Diplomats program. Students do not even need to select a destination until well after they earn their badges. Students are encouraged to apply as early in their undergraduate experience as possible.

“The earlier the better,” said Wright about applying to Delaware Diplomats. “I encourage freshmen to apply and get started right away. We want you to really get the most out of this program and take your time preparing.”

Junior Navleen Kaur became a Delaware Diplomat early in her college experience because she knew that she wanted to study abroad. As an international business and marketing major, she understood that cross-cultural learning will be crucial to her success. After studying abroad in Rome and Martinque during her first two years of college, Kaur now plans to study abroad a third time during Winter Session 2024 in the Sydney, Australia BUAD Practicum program, where she will gain professional business experience through a four-week internship program.

The Delaware Diplomats program has helped Kaur fund her education and prepared her to adapt to many different cultural environments. She now serves as a council member for the program, working to help other students uncover its benefits.

“I wanted to become part of a community that encouraged engagement in intercultural events on campus,” said Kaur. “It has been a great opportunity to meet many students from different cultures and learn about life in many countries.”

Council member Brooke Tyndall joined Delaware Diplomats for similar reasons. After carefully completing all three badges, Tyndall is now preparing to depart for her  first study abroad experience this winter in Athens, Greece. During this program, she will spend three weeks shadowing physicians in a hospital setting, while extensively learning about the European healthcare system.

Aside from the $1,500 she earned, Tyndall credits Delaware Diplomats’ inclusive global community with preparing her for international travel while helping her feel more at home in Delaware.

“It is an interactive group,” said Tyndall. “We hold required monthly meetings every semester and are always collaborative with each of them. Delaware Diplomats also opens up multiple other opportunities for students. I did the American Host Partner Program to earn the Intercultural Friendship Badge, and I loved it.”

Across the country, one in 10 undergraduates participates in study abroad. At UD, this figure jumps to three in 10. With so many students studying abroad — plus the thousands of international students who choose UD as their study abroad destination —, Delaware is a leader in internationalization and global engagement. UD launched the very first for-credit study abroad program in the nation 100 years ago.

Making the decision to study abroad is one that students rarely regret. Students are much more likely to lament not finding a way to include global education in their four-year plan.

“Each year, we see tremendous growth in our undergraduate students who study abroad, from their confidence to increased empathy and global citizenship,” said Drexler. “Hearing about their experiences enriches the curriculum and student experience for all of us in Newark.”

How to Become a Delaware Diplomat

The fall 2023 application window is now open, and will run until Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. To prepare to apply, students should think about what challenges they expect to face on their path to study abroad and while being abroad, as well as their personal, career and social goals for participating in the program. Learn more on the Delaware Diplomats website or contact dediplomats@udel.edu.

Other ways to pay for study abroad

CGPS is hosting a Before You Explore webinar on Oct. 10, which will break down the financial pros and cons of studying abroad for a semester versus a short-term program, note creative ways other students have used to find extra support and review CGPS financial need-based scholarships and how to earn a scholarship towards a future study abroad program.This workshop is part of the CGPS Before You Explore series designed to prepare students for UD Study Abroad.

CGPS also encourages Pell Grant eligible students looking for financial support to apply for the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The deadline to apply is Oct. 5 and this year there is a new STEM research component. CGPS will host webinars on Sept. 12 and 19 for students interested in applying.

From Delaware to the World

2023 marks the 100-year anniversary of study abroad, pioneered at the University of Delaware in 1923 when UD language professor and World War I veteran Raymond Kirkbride took eight students to France for their junior year. Today, UD boasts more than 100 study abroad programs in 40-plus countries and has an international student population that hails from over 100 countries.

If you would like to be a part of study abroad’s 100th anniversary celebration by supporting global learning for UD students, you can make a gift here. Please also visit the UD Abroad Blog for student perspectives on the study abroad experience.

About the Center for Global Programs and Studies

The Center for Global Programs and Services (CGPS) at the University of Delaware is home to the operations of UD Global, which includes Study Abroad, International Student and Scholar Services, World Scholars Program and Global Outreach and Partnerships. The Center provides leadership and collaborative innovation in support of all of the University's global initiatives and campus internationalization efforts, with its Global 360 Strategy serving as a roadmap for infusing international perspectives throughout the University’s scholarship, research, and service missions. Focused on a student-centered approach, CGPS provides expert advising and a wealth of global engagement opportunities to the UD campus community, including the weekly International Coffee Hour in the fall and spring semesters.

Follow and engage with @UDGlobal on Instagram and Twitter for the latest updates on everything global happening at UD.



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