Scholarships make study abroad possible

Sarah Hadmack works in the study abroad center with students Cayson Kiyabu, Rellci Kupahu and Levi Robello – Cynthia Lee Sinclair

Students often think they can’t afford to study abroad. However, there is a long list of scholarships that can make your dreams of travel come true.

I know this first-hand because they made my travel dreams come true.

I am an older, disabled returning student, and I traveled around the world last semester. I designed my own independent study program comparing what different places around the world are doing about domestic violence (DV) and child abuse (CA).

I went to 10 countries, starting in New Zealand and then flying to Rome, traveling by train across Western Europe to the U.K. and finally over to Canada.

WCC study abroad coordinator Sarah Hadmack helped me plan the trip every step of the way.

“Study abroad changes lives,” Hadmack said. “Suffice it to say that most students report that they learned more about themselves from their short time abroad than they could have in several years at home. Students often return to their home campuses with renewed enthusiasm for their studies and with new, focused direction.”

I had four different instructors allow me to take independent study courses with them. The courses included:  History, in which I looked at what DV and CA used to be like and what they’re like now; Religion, in which I examined what churches are doing about the issues; Social Work, in which I explored what society is doing in general; and Journalism, in which I wrote and sent back two stories about my findings for every issue of Ka ‘Ohana.

Each course was three credits each, for a total of 12 credits. As a full-time student, I qualified for the full financial aid package.

The process of establishing independent study starts by filing a 199V independent study form that can be found on the WCC website. The form requires signatures from the instructor, the department chair and the dean of academic affairs. A syllabus and a list of requirements is worked out with each instructor.

To fund my trip, I received three scholarships: the University of Hawai‘i Honda Study Abroad scholarship, the U.S. Department of State Gilman scholarship and the “Live Your Dream Award” from the Soroptimist International of Honolulu organization.

With those three scholarships and my student loans, I had $12,000. After I bought my tickets and lodging, I had $20 a day to live on for 105 days of the trip.

The deadline for the Gilman scholarship is in March and it is never too soon to start the process for next year.

The deadline for the Honda scholarship is March 1. Students need to have a 3.5 GPA or better in order to apply. You also need to have a formal program that you will attend or an independent study program that has been approved by the scholarship committee. The amount of the award depends on the number of credits for your study abroad program.

The Soroptimist “Live Your Dream” award is only open to women who are working to improve the lives of women and girls.

Many students are intimidated by the process involved with studying abroad. I found that it was not as difficult as I thought it would be. With proper planning and by using our study abroad center as a resource, I had an amazing experience.

“I greatly believe in the power of studying abroad from my own experiences in India, Taiwan, England, Wales, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and more,” said Hadmack, who has personally led several student trips to India. “I want to pay it forward by helping you make all your travel dreams come true.”

Next year, study abroad trips are planned to Costa Rica during spring break and to the U.K. during the summer. More details on these trips will be announced soon.

WCC’s study abroad center is in Hale Mānaleo room 108. It is open Monday and Thursday from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. or by appointment.

Hadmack is on hand to answer any questions you might have and to help you find the best program suited to your interests and to navigate the scholarship process. She said she will even sit next to you as you fill out applications, in case any questions arise during the process.

You can email her at or visit for more information.


by Cynthia Lee Sinclair, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter