Written by Sarah Turner
VSU biology major Matthew Rivera, has been awarded the Council on International Educational Exchange South Korea scholarship.
The scholarship will pay for his biology major, religious studies minor and will include a spring break in South Korea.
Rivera, 21, expects to graduate in spring of 2014. Rivera also currently works as a certified pharmacy technician and maintains a 4.0 GPA.
“It is very rare for a science major to travel abroad,” Irina McClellan, assistant director of the Center for International Programs, said.
McClellan described Rivera as an exemplary student who isn’t afraid to step out of his comfort zone.
Rivera will spend March 17-26 at the Yonsei University in Seoul. Rivera and his fellow scholars will attend academic lectures, tour the city and explore important areas in South Korea.
In order to receive the scholarship, Rivera had to have little or no previous exposure to Korean culture. However, Rivera was still able to get some inside information on what to expect during his spring break.
“I actually had supper with several students at VSU who are from South Korea–at Waffle House of all places,” Rivera said.
CIEE received hundreds of applications from across the nation including nine applicants from VSU. However, there were only 40 spaces available.
Rivera had to send his application off with a $150 application fee. While his mother was supportive of her son applying for the scholarship, she was also very protective. Nonetheless, Rivera knew who he wanted to tell first when he heard the news of his award.
“The first thing I did when I got off work was call my mom and say, ‘Mom, guess where I’m going for spring break,’” Rivera said.
Rivera looks up to his mother, who he says is his “biggest cheerleader” as well as his professors.
“I think that a student is a sum of all their teachers,” Rivera said.
While Rivera is solely a science major, he also enjoys learning about his minor in religious studies.
Rivera agrees with his adviser, Dr. J. Mitchell Lockhart, who believes in having a profession as well as a passion.
This summer, Rivera plans to apply to medical school at the Medical College of Georgia.