British Summer Institute

University honors students visit the Scottish Highlands in 2014 as a part of the British Summer Institute, a study abroad program coordinated by Mary Klayder.

Over winter break, a fundraising campaign to send more students on study abroad trips raised more than 30,000 dollars.

To raise the funds, the University Honors Program partnered with KU Endowment and created the Mary Klayder Study Abroad Fund. Between Dec. 15 and Jan. 16, the fund received $33,000 in donations.

The fund is designed to alleviate some financial pressures for students that otherwise wouldn’t be able to study abroad without an award from the fund, said Bryan Young, the University Honors Program director.

“It’s been an increasing emphasis for us, and for me, to make sure that the [Honors] program is supporting the kinds of experiences and opportunities that are really going to help launch KU students into meaningful lives,” Young said.

There are three application cycles each year — one in November, February and April — where honors students can apply for an award fund, though the awards, which vary based on need, are not able to cover the entire cost of a trip.

Mary Klayder, a University English professor who has coordinated Honors Program study abroad trips for 27 years, has traveled with over 1,000 students, according to the campaign's website.

Klayder coordinates three study abroad trips each year: the British Summer Institute, the London Review, and Travel Writing and Costa Rica.  

Over winter break, Jane Wang, a freshman from Salina, studied abroad through the Travel Writing and Costa Rica trip.

“It was the most amazing thing,” Wang said. “It was 11 days in Costa Rica.”

Wang journaled all 11 days, and said she met indigenous tribes, learned about rainforest conservation, went on a night hike through the jungle and earned an English credit.

While Klayder has been on over 40 trips, she continues to find interest in what she’s doing in the moment, making every trip a unique experience, Wang said.

Wang plans on traveling with Klayder again, but next time through the British Summer Institute.

While the trips only last from one to four weeks and are English-based, students gain skills as they travel internationally and navigate new experiences. Students learn flexibility and gain confidence that will help them later in their careers, Young said.

Furthermore, Klayder’s trip offers students whose majors do not allow them to study abroad for long periods a chance to study abroad.

“We want to be in a position to allow every student in the [Honors] program to engage in a study abroad program at some point in their four years,” Young said.

— Edited by Casey Brown