Though classes will end for the fall semester in just a few weeks, many students are planning to carry on their education through the winter break through a travel grant from Engaged Cornell.
The Community-Engaged Student Travel Grants is a program through Engaged Cornell which serves to provide qualified undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to fund their research over winter break.
113 students have received funding for this winter break alone. While the grant itself provides a maximum amount of $1,500, the average amount students received this winter was $660, said Joy Das M.P.A. ’18, the program manager for student leadership programming.
Since 2011, the travel grant has grown from funding just six students in a year to funding 113 students in just this year’s winter round, Das said. After an increase in funding four years ago, the program was able to expand its student funding.
This opportunity allows students to travel around the globe in activities that range from mentored internships to presentations at conferences.
One-time grant awards are distributed in the winter, spring and summer.
With a grant upwards of $1,500, students can pay for transportation, a personal allowance or anything else needed for a successful project.
“One of the projects that I find really exciting is a graduate student who is working on research, she comes from the circus community and she is doing research on the history of their outfits,” Das said.
These grants are applicable for anyone is any field of study, barring students who are in their last semester.
Applicants go through two rounds, one where undergraduate and graduate students review the applications, and a second round conducted by Das herself.
“Our criteria is based on student learning so we look at the quality of community engagement and are there opportunities to learn about how to work with others and critical reflection, are you questioning biases that you are coming in,” Das said.
Past recipients have included Elena Setiadarma ’21, who worked with the Kerala community in India to create a group research paper in a program called “Agriculture in Developing Nations,” and Eric Dalpe ’20, who was part of the AguaClara Cornell project team which visited Honduras to learn from Agua Para El Pueblo team members.
Dalpe described the trip as “educational and formative” in an email to The Sun, and said that the trip to Honduras changed the way he applies his engineering skills.
In general, projects must have the possibility of impacting students or the community. In addition, the applicant must also have the possibility to develop “intercultural competence,” “ethical practice” and “skills in critical reflection.”
“I think students often want to spend their breaks doing work that helps and supports others and often there isn’t a lot of support for that and this provides support to do work that people wish they could be doing,” Das said.