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Olmsted grant doubles, funding more overseas trips for cadets

For many college students, their first experience traveling out of the country is through a study abroad trip. For University of North Georgia (UNG) cadets, a $20,000 grant from the Olmsted Foundation will help fund overseas cultural immersion trips, such as conference participation.

Olmsted Grant Czech Republic
Cadets from UNG pose with an Olmsted scholar while in Brno, Czech Republic, for a Defense Economics Course. Their trip was funded by a grant from the Olmsted Foundation.

Opportunities for UNG cadets funded by the grant include events such as foreign defense academies' international weeks, the annual International Military Academic Forum in Europe or the Model UN Conference. These types of trips allow UNG cadets to expand their global knowledge and forge friendships that could turn into future alliances.

"The Olmsted Scholarship has given me the opportunity to go to Brno, Czech Republic and attend a Defense Economics Course and experience European culture," said Cadet Capt. Jackson Howard, a junior from Jefferson, Georgia, majoring in kinesiology with a teacher certification emphasis. "I was able to learn more about the military in other countries and see what they do that is different from the U.S. military."

Howard and two other cadets — Cadet Staff Sgt. Tristan Moran and Cadet Staff Sgt. William Walters — all attended the Defense Economics Course in the Czech Republic, thanks to $2,000 grants for each. Walters, a sophomore accounting major from Barnesville, Georgia, was glad to learn more about economics as well as the culture of the Czech Republic and that of other cadets in attendance.

The highly sought-after Olmsted undergraduate opportunity gives many future military officers their first overseas experience. These trips, typically one to three weeks in length, occur in non-English speaking countries with exposure to those countries' national perspectives and focus on the role of U.S. policy in that region.

Cadet Capt. Kristal Simon and Cadet Sgt. First Class Emily Dunn each received a $2,000 grant to attend the Model United Nations in Munich, Germany, in May. Simon said she would not have been able to attend an international conference without funds from the Olmsted Foundation grant.

"I left with a better understanding of not only international relations, but of how the rest of the world views the United States and how our actions effect the rest of the world," said Simon, a senior criminal justice major from Cornelius, North Carolina. "After studying international politics with students from around the world, I am a firm believer that everyone in our generation should spend some time abroad in an academic community."

Last year, UNG received a $10,000 grant from the Olmsted Foundation but this year was one of only four schools in the nation, including Norwich University, Virginia Tech and Virginia Military Institute, to receive a $20,000 grant.

"We’re glad that The Olmsted Foundation can continue the partnership with the University of North Georgia to provide an opportunity to some of your cadets for a short exposure to a foreign country and culture," said retired Col. Bob Stratton, vice president of the Olmsted Foundation. "The experience will only make them better officers down the road."

Moran, a sophomore majoring in nursing from Columbus, Georgia, agreed the opportunity to experience a new culture and location will benefit his future career plans in the Army.

"This experience gives me a chance to work with people from different cultures, which will help me in my future career plans because the Army is the most diverse workplace in the world, and I will be working with people every day that are from places all around the world," Moran said.

At UNG, Army ROTC cadets who are contracted to commission as active duty, Reserve or National Guard officers may participate. Although not required, preference will be given to cadets who are majoring in international affairs or a strategic foreign language.

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