Cecil Township resident takes ‘advantage’ of university grant

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A few months before Mitchell Bayne embarked on his trip to Chile, he received a grant to pay for the round-trip ticket and study abroad fee.


“I was really happy to receive (the grant),” said Bayne, a University of Pittsburgh senior neuroscience major. “I didn’t know how competitive it was and it is just another aid.”


Bayne, a 2011 Canon-McMillan graduate and Cecil Township resident, was planning his trip to Valparaiso, Chile, with the university’s study abroad office since January, when he discovered the PittAdvantage Grant application in early April.


Pitt’s Outside of the Classroom Curriculum, a program under the university’s Student Affairs office, funded the grant for its second year.


In order to apply for the grant, students must complete a core curriculum of activities aiming to develop a well-rounded student and improve job candidacy.


The 10 goal areas outlined by the program include leadership development, career preparation, wellness, service to others, appreciation of the arts, initiative and drive, global and cultural awareness, communication skills, Pitt pride and devolving sense of self.


Fundraising for the grant occurred in March at the “Experience the World Showcase Dinner and Auction,” where approximately 250 university-affiliated attendees bid on items.


According to John Fedele, Pitt’s senior associate director of news, the grant was awarded to 25 Pitt students pursuing a learning experience this summer.


Thirteen are, like Bayne, studying abroad, five are engaging in unpaid internships, six are involved in learning-service projects internationally ands one student is attending a leadership conference in the Prague, Czech Republic.


Bayne is among the majority of students allocating the grant toward international travel.


He left June 18 for six weeks of study at Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso. He is enrolled in two language classes, which will complete his Spanish minor.


Bayne is also investigating area HIV clinics where he could observe and shadow “patient to doctor interaction.”


With plans to become a pediatrician, Bayne hopes the experience will challenge and broaden his Spanish-language skills and cultural understanding.


“I chose Chile,” Bayne said, “because I wanted to go to South America instead of Spain because less people know English (in South America).”


He added the trip was his dream destination since middle school. “It will help me be more aware of … lesser-known cultures which are not highly represented in the media or anything I see daily,” he explained.


Since its inception, the grant program expanded its funding, and the university hopes to take the program even further.


“We plan to continue to expand the grant program because we know how much employers and graduate schools value experiential learning,” Fedele said. “We want to give all of our students the opportunity to engage in these life-changing experiences.”


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