$600,000 Scholarship Donation Announced at 2023 Study Abroad Film Festival

People clapping at film fest

IES Abroad is overjoyed to announce that a $600,000 donation has been gifted from an incredible lifelong educator, and global traveler, the late Barbara Bobrich. Her gift will help increase access to study abroad for so many students, and we are touched by her generous contribution to our organization. 

Announced at this year’s Study Abroad Film Festival, where Barbara’s friends were in attendance, the crowd errupted in applause for the exciting news and meaningful donation. 

Barbara Bobrich

Barbara was born and raised in Chicago by parents who encouraged curiosity and education beyond the classroom. She was a first-generation college graduate from Northwestern University, who made education her lifelong journey via a 45-year teaching high school in Park Ridge, Illinois.   

In 2017 Barbara was introduced to IES Abroad through the Study Abroad Film Festival. The student filmmaker stories, and IES Abroad’s global classroom resonated deeply, inspiring Barbara’s first of many generous gifts to IES Abroad Scholarships. In 2022, IES Abroad learned of Barbara’s passing, and her wish for IES Abroad to be a steward of her educator legacy through a generous bequest of $600,000!   

Marlene Perrucci, a Maine South alumna, and good friend to Barbara shared: 

“During her career Barbara inspired many to think beyond their own little world and look at the possibilities. She was an awesome woman, intelligent, witty and interested in so much that life had to offer. She taught biology with passion and excitement. She coached the Maine South Hawkettes dance team and choreographed musicals with a taskmaster's exactitude; and each summer traveled the world with wonder and curiosity.”  

With that, we are also introducing the Barbara Bobrich $5,000 Annual Scholarship. It will carry forward Barbara’s passion for education by sponsoring an IES Abroad global opportunity for a student in financial need enrolled at the alma mater of the Film Festival Grand Prize Award winner!  So, not only will the winner receive their own cash prize, but they are also giving the gift of study abroad to a future student from their university. 

Sami Stidham winning

Sami Stidham (University of Wisconsin Madison| IES Abroad Barcelona, Spring 2023) took home the Grand Prize for the 9th annual Study Abroad Film Festival for her film "Take the Goggles Off," which means that she took home the $1,500 Grand Prize and secured the newly created $5,000 IES Abroad Barbara Bobrich Annual scholarship for a future University of Wisconsin Madison study abroad student in financial need. 

That’s not all. The 2023 Film Festival raised $45,000 for scholarships, which means that over the years, our Film Festivals have raised more than $700,000 towards IES Abroad scholarships. 

Additionally, an anonymous donor contributed to this total by sending a grant of $5,000,and agreed to match any gift given by our guests at the Festival. 

IES Abroad has received a record number of scholarship and aid applications, who without scholarship support, might miss out on the opportunity to study abroad. We are thrilled to continue driving our mission to create greater access to study abroad. 

Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s Film Festival and contributed to making study abroad dreams come true.  

If you didn’t have a chance to attend, you can still learn more about the IES Abroad Film Festival and watch the livestream from the event. Learn more about our scholarships and aid.

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