Study Abroad Scholarships Grow with Donor Gift

$1.8 million Gifted for Study Abroad Scholarships

Spain student trip

The ornate, sky-high cathedrals left a grand impression. But the tiny bees in need of assistance did, too. Jasmine Foote ’25 saw the big, the small, and everything in between during her trip to Spain.

“When I think Spain, I don’t think bees. But we did a service-learning activity in the mountains to learn from beekeepers and see how they build hives, and we built hives with them,” she explained in a recent recap of her 2022 travels through the University of Hartford’s study abroad office. “They’re trying to build the population back up. It was something really different to do, and I liked that.”

An unforgettable moment, the kind that even more UHart students can now enjoy—a West Hartford couple has gifted $1.8 million for study abroad scholarships, granting access to so many students who never imagined extending their education to another country.

There’s been a lot of work to make studying abroad more accessible to all students, including those who wouldn’t be able to go or wouldn’t have considered it. The Dunn family has made it all possible.

Nicole Kurker-Stewart, director of UHart’s International Center

The Gladys B. M’60 and Robert E. Dunn Fund for International Study

Gladys and Bob Dunn
Photo provided by family of the late Gladys and Bob Dunn

The Gladys B. M’60 and Robert E. Dunn Fund for International Study was created for UHart students by the late Gladys and Robert Dunn, who lived and taught in West Hartford and were world travelers. Robert Dunn taught graduate courses at UHart, while Gladys Dunn was an alumna. They established the fund at UHart in 2007, and the new gift has been made through their estate after they each passed away. The couple hoped to aid students with the greatest need of financial assistance.

“We’ve always had a study abroad program, but we’ve expanded it thanks to this fund,” says Nicole Kurker-Stewart, director of UHart’s International Center. “Some students have never been on a plane, they haven’t traveled out of the state. For some, funding can make or break their plans."

Off-campus learning and service opportunities abound at UHart. But partaking in a completely different country amplifies the experience to a whole new level. And it’s more than just learning to say “thank you” in another language, taking classes in a new place for a full semester, or trying traditional foods in places like England, South Korea, and Italy (the current top choices of UHart students).

In fact, it’s a life-changing experience for many.

“You’re learning independence in another country, a new culture, all the life skills, budgeting, and practical things. Those are not your main reason for going abroad, but students acquire all of that,” Kurker-Stewart adds. “Then we partner with Career Services when they get back to market that for career paths.”

Some choose particular countries because of a family connection, while others travel as part of their academic program. The undergraduate-level architecture program includes a semester in Italy with a UHart architecture professor, for example.

For other destinations and programs, UHart works with a study abroad provider, and students take courses with a school in that country while earning credits for their UHart degree. They can also get initiated to the study abroad program with an abbreviated trip: First- and second-year students can embark on a one-week excursion in the spring with a UHart professor. That’s what brought Foote to Spain, along with a study abroad scholarship.

“One of my majors is international studies. And I want to keep building momentum for when I go abroad for a semester next year,” says Foote, who also learned about religions prevalent in Granada’s history, as well as rulers and ruins. “UHart told me about the scholarship as soon as I came to school here. I didn’t have to worry about how I’d be able to go, which was a blessing."

Kurker-Stewart reminds students and families that there is constant support through the study abroad program and host school while students are away. And now they’re reminding them of the additional scholarship opportunities as well.

“A lot of conversations we’re having are with families to say, ‘This is possible from both a timing and finance perspective,’” she said. “There’s been a lot of work to make it more accessible to all students, including those who wouldn’t be able to go abroad or wouldn’t have considered it. The Dunn family has made it all possible.”