2018-2019 Global Fellows recipients ready for the experience of a lifetime


Aaron Nicolaisen, Staff Writer

For many, the thought of embarking on a journey to a different country to embrace a new culture, perspective, and way of living may be an unattainable life-long dream. For a few Buena Vista University (BVU) students, the goal of international travel can become a achievable thanks to the Global Fellows Program.  

The Global Fellows program is an interdisciplinary initiative with the focus of teaching students about environmental awareness and ways to conserve pristine land masses. For the past seven years, selected students have been given the opportunity to partake in a travel experience to multiple cities in Chile, South America.  

A total of six elite students are chosen as Global Fellows to travel to the southern tip of Chile each year, partaking in a conservation program on Navarino Island called Tracing Darwin’s Path.  Two faculty members accompany the students as they travel throughout Chile.  

In order to be chosen as a Global Fellow, students must apply as a freshman by drafting an essay regarding the conservation and protection of pristine land masses and provide two letters of recommendation by BVU faculty. Students are highly encouraged to emphasize ways of incorporating interdisciplinary perspectives within their essay.  

Upon submission, a committee reviews each applicant’s essay, grading it for creativity, uniqueness, and writing quality. Only six students are selected per year to be Global Fellows, given the once in a life time opportunity to travel to Chile. Even though the trip is highly immersive in biology, philosophy, and conservation efforts, it is open to students of all disciplines and areas of study. 

The chosen Global Fellows for the 2018-2019 year are: Emma Bloom, history major; Jordyn Daggs-Olson, strategic public relations major; Madisyn Reiakvam, bio-medical sciences major; Elizabeth Reiva, environmental science major; Claire Stepan, bio-medical sciences; and Rachel West, exercise science and athletic training double major. 

The selected students will participate in a one-hour weekly preparation course next fall to become familiar with the Chilean conservation project and gain some insight of the country they will be visiting before traveling during the 2019 January interim for one month. 

Being selected as a Global Fellow is a unique and once in a life time opportunity. Students expressed why they pursued the chance to apply.

“Chile is truly once in [a] life time opportunity, and I knew if I did not take the chance, I might never be able to have one like it again,” says Bloom.

“I decided to apply for Global Fellows after talking about it in my University Seminar class. I have always loved to travel and wanted the opportunity to broaden my horizons and get out of my comfort zone,” says Daggs-Olson.

“Those who have gone, come back with an entirely new perspective on the world and a fire within them to create change,” says Reiakvam. “I want to have this spark inside of me lit.”

“I decided to apply to the Global Fellows program because I am interested in the global perspective that it is trying to build, as well as the chance to see an area I probably never would have gotten the chance to otherwise,” says Reiva. 

“I decided to apply for this experience because I absolutely love to travel,” says Stepan. “I hope to visit every continent and being able to go to Chile would be an amazing experience.”

Dr. Melinda Coogan, Professor of Biology, and Miranda Pollock, Professor of Graphic Design, will be the two faculty members accompanying the 2018-2019 Global Fellows. This will be the eighth student travel opportunity to Chile, South America, since the Global Fellows program was established at Buena Vista University.  

This upcoming trip to Chile will be Coogan’s eighth year taking students to experience the Chilean culture and environment; 48 Global Fellows in total over the years. Dr. Coogan says she never gets tired of going to the same place. 

“Each student group is different with a different personality and perspective,” expresses Coogan. “I enjoy seeing the progression of the students each year.” 

Many Global Fellows, past and present, work closely with the university’s environmental club, Students Caring About Tomorrow’s Environment (SCATE) to improve environmental awareness amongst the BVU campus and local community.  After traveling to Chile, the Global Fellows will be working together along with community members to mentor local high school students associated with the Storm Lake Bridge Project.  

Students from every major are welcome to participate in the Bridge Project. To get involved or learn more about the Storm Lake Bridge Project and their mission, visit their homepage: https://www.thebridgeofstormlake.com/