Published May 9, 2017
Kari Winter, director of UB’s Gender Institute, knows that helping students realize success is sometimes a matter of providing them with a little bit of help — and she points to the institute’s undergraduate scholarship to illustrate that point.
The institute, which has collaborated on the award with the UB Academies for the past two years, presents the annual $1,000 scholarship to students interested in conducting research related to women and gender.
“This modest scholarship is an enormously fertile and productive way to increase the bounty of our students’ educational experiences,” says Winter, professor of transnational studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. “And you can see that by looking at some of our awardees.”
Since the 2014-15 academic year, two of the scholarship awardees, Samah Asfour and Sarah Stanford, have won prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) and a third, Cathleen Alarcón, received permission from Mexican playwright Bárbara Colio to translate Colio’s 2014 play “Casi Transilvania” from Spanish into English.
Stanford, this year’s scholarship winner and an English-social work double major, studied factors that affect educational resilience, health and wellness in Buffalo’s Bhutanese-Nepali community. She now will go on to teach in Malaysia with the Fulbright award.
She says the time spent working on her Institutional Review Board-approved project represents the most crucial point of her undergraduate studies.
“Within these past 10 months, not only have I grown intellectually in the library and in the field, but I have grown in my passion for assisting the refugee communities and underprivileged communities in Buffalo as whole,” Stanford says. “[This has] truly been a journey of discovery for me, and I am so grateful for the way that UB’s library system, professors and institutes helped me to grow as a student.”
Asfour, the institute’s 2014-15 awardee and a dual major in global gender studies and political science, used her scholarship to help fund research on Muslim women in France. Her Fulbright ETA allowed her to teach in Jordan at the UNWRA University for Women Palestinian Refugees.
“You can see an intense impact that these students are having on the world: Samah in France and Jordan, Kathleen in the U.S. and Mexico, and Sarah in Buffalo’s refugee communities and Malaysia,” says Winter. “Note to potential donors: I can think of few financial donations that would have more far-reaching ramifications.”
Students’ global impacts begin locally, as many of the scholarship’s effects leap directly from the intense learning experience generated by the dynamic between students and faculty, a relationship that Winter sees as a springboard for important work.
“All of the scholarship winners have spoken in warm and grateful terms about their faculty adviser and their mentors on campus,” she says. “Our faculty truly value the work of our undergraduate students and it’s gratifying to see these efforts reverberate.”
For the future, Winter hopes to see the applicant pool deepen beyond its recent rich history so more students like Alarcón, Asfour and Stanford have similar opportunities to excel.
She encourages students to apply for these opportunities as a way of tuning into a process that can snowball into success.
“I would encourage students to understand that they’re multitalented and have a lot to offer the world,” Winter says. “Believe in yourself and pursue the kinds of work that will be tremendously rewarding.”