We are excited to share some good news about the IES Abroad Charles Merrill, Jr. Scholarship Fund! We have just surpassed the threshold amount of $50,000 in gifts and pledges, and will soon endow this special scholarships. Through the Fund, IES Abroad will begin to award study abroad scholarships to students from Morehouse College and Spelman College to study abroad on any of our programs around the world.
The history between Charles E. Merrill, Jr. and IES Abroad dates back to the late 1950s when he served on the board of Morehouse College and established the Merrill Scholarship through his personal philanthropy. Mr. Merrill originally provided all-expenses-paid scholarships for students at Morehouse and Spelman to study for a full academic year on IES Abroad programs. Students were specially selected for their exceptional academic achievements, studied on IES Abroad programs, and then went on to earn graduate and, in many instances, postgraduate degrees. Individually and collectively, they have made enormous contributions to our world during their lifetimes. IES Abroad featured 25 such groundbreaking Merrill Scholars over the years honoring them and the legacy of Charles E. Merrill, Jr. Read more about these Merrill Scholar successes!
In 2011, the IES Abroad Advancement and Diversity teams began working together to create a Charles E. Merrill, Jr. Scholarship Fund at IES Abroad. While strides were made, it was alumnus Dr. John Hodges (IES Abroad Nantes | 1966-67), who after attending a class reunion in Nantes in 2015, was inspired to champion this Fund. He first made a significant gift to the Fund and followed with personal outreach to dozens of Morehouse and Spelman friends, among others. Simultaneously, Gretchen Cook-Anderson, IES Abroad’s Assistant Vice President, Diversity Recruiting & Advising, contacted younger Spelman and Morehouse alumni, many of whom she had recruited to study abroad, to ask for support of the Fund.
“I want students to have the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with individuals who may appear to be very different than they are.”
When asked why he thinks it’s important for more students of color to study abroad Dr. Hodges explained, “I want students to have the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with individuals who may appear to be very different than they are. As a student who lacked the financial resources to study abroad, I want to make sure that this potentially life-altering experience was not limited only to the well-resourced.”
From Gretchen’s perspective as an IES Abroad Nagoya alumna and Merrill Scholar, she believes that study abroad gives students a glimpse into life’s immense possibilities beyond what, for many, is a narrower world of family and friends and local community. This Scholarship will help fulfill her goal for more students who attend Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) to be inspired and deeply changed by global travel and education abroad—and to know what it’s like to live beyond U.S. borders, to know that the world will embrace, and even celebrate who they are and the potential they have to impact humanity.
“...study abroad gives students a glimpse into life’s immense possibilities beyond what, for many, is a narrower world of family and friends and local community.”
Please join us in celebrating this milestone—we look forward to updating you on the successes of future Merrill Scholars as we continue to grow and award these scholarships annually!