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Global Scholars explore world’s ‘beautiful and harsh realities’

Apr 20, 2022
5 min Read
Eugene Curtin
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Hannah Mosher
Pictured above, Creighton Global Scholar Hannah Mosher during her semester studying in Australia.

 

For one group of Creighton University undergraduate student-scholars, the bricked walkways, multiple dining opportunities and modern buildings that enliven Creighton’s Omaha campus are a portal to global adventure.

These are the Global Scholars, members of a program inaugurated four years ago by Creighton University President the Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD. In May, these 16 scholars will constitute the program’s first graduating class.

“This marks a significant achievement for these individual students and a milestone for Creighton University,” Fr. Hendrickson said. “When we started the program back in the fall of 2018, I stated that our Global Scholars will go beyond their comfort zones and embrace both the beautiful and harsh realities of the world in order to become more globally conversant, critically engaged and open-hearted, global citizens.

“I applaud this inaugural cohort for the many ways they have integrated this vision into their academic and personal lives. I believe their experiences will serve them well as they prepare to graduate as global citizens ready to make their mark on the world.”

The Creighton University Global Scholars Program is a four-year educational and professional development program that emerged from the Creighton Global Initiative, a presidential program that offers faculty, staff and students opportunities to embrace global perspectives. Global Scholars experience a variety of cultures for a rich academic, social and service experience.  During their travels, which include four global experiences during their four years at Creighton, participants can build networks with students, faculty and alumni from around the world.

Global Scholars class trip to the United Nations in New York
A March 2022 class trip to the United Nations in New York City proved an opportunity for nine members of the first graduating class of Creighton University’s Global Scholars to gather for a photo. They are, from left, Bennett Cleveland, Grace Hilbert, Hannah Mosher, Taylor Apodaca, Bridget McManamon, Alexandra McDermott, John Oberst, Dominique Gaido and Matthew Irby.

Alexandra McDermott, a medical anthropology major on Creighton’s accelerated nursing track, says her Global Scholars trips to Australia, New Zealand, the Dominican Republic and Cuba confirmed her desire to become a NICU nurse and to battle infant mortality.

“I have made lifelong relationships around the world,” she says. “I have my amazing mates in Australia that I met in a Bible study, and my host family in the Dominican Republic. These experiences and people have shaped me into who I am today in ways I would not have experienced if I had remained only in Omaha.”

Ella Thompson, a journalism and history major in the College of Arts and Sciences, is another Global Scholar.

International travel, she says, taught her to question societal systems and enabled her to see how she contributed to a system that marginalizes minority voices while revealing ways she can amplify those voices.

“This gave me a drive to challenge myself and educate myself once I returned to Creighton,” she says. “Although my stay in the Dominican Republic in the spring of 2020 was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, my immersion there was a pivotal point in my life.

“I frequently refer back to it as the time that helped me understand the complexity of mission work, foreign aid, poverty and racial justice.”

The result, Thompson says, was her decision to attend law school, where she plans to be a voice for justice.

I frequently refer back to it as the time that helped me understand the complexity of mission work, foreign aid, poverty and racial justice.
— Ella Thompson, Creighton Global Scholar

Grace Hilbert, a biology major at Creighton, is going to medical school.

She knew she would after spending time in the remote mountain community of Venú in the Dominican Republic.

“That experience shaped my understanding of the privilege of access to health care and the implications of a lack thereof for persons and communities,” she says.

“I learned that the 6-year-old boy living with the family next-door had been taken in after his mother died during childbirth. Tragically, his mother experienced unexpected complications and was unable to receive medical care in time. This specific experience taught me how health care disparities can permeate every inch of a small community and inspired me to pursue a capstone project focusing on this issue.”

René Padilla, PhD, vice provost for global engagement at Creighton, said the University’s commitment to building global awareness reflects the Catholic understanding that the planet is a “common home” for all people.

A group photo of the first cohort of Global Scholars
All 15 members of Creighton University’s first graduating class of Global Scholars pose for a commemorative photo. They are, from left, Ella Thompson, John Oberst, Matthew Irby, Seamus Carroll, Taylor Apodaca, Bailey Buhrman, Bennett Cleveland, Alexandria Gudgeon, Bridget McManamon, Sarah Kramer, Hannah Mosher, Grace Hilbert, Dominique Gaido, Camryn Halboth, Alexandra McDermott.

“As a Jesuit institution, Creighton’s Catholic mission provides a unique lens, most recently articulated by Pope Francis in his encyclical letter Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home, Padilla says. “Out of an understanding that ‘everything is closely related,’ Pope Francis noted that today’s problems call for a vision capable of considering every aspect of the global crisis.

“Thus, initiatives such as the Global Scholars Program, which emphasize the interconnectedness of environmental, economic, political, social, cultural and ethical issues, help students develop the vision to think about comprehensive solutions to what is both an environmental and human crisis.”

Students graduating as 2022 Global Scholars include:

  • Grace Hilbert. Capstone topic: “Understanding the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing the global maternal mortality ratio, as outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3.”
  • Taylor Apodaca and Bennett Cleveland. Capstone topic: “What is the effectiveness of integrating traditional foods as a part of a healthy diet in reducing blood cholesterol levels of people with cardiovascular disease?”
  • Seamus Carroll. Capstone topic: “How effective are renewable energy credits in increasing the total share of renewables in the fossil-fuel dominated energy sector?”
  • Dominique Gaido and Bailey Williams (Buhrman). Capstone topic: “What is the effectiveness of community gardens in improving nutrition of people with food insecurity who live in identified food deserts?”
  • Alexandria Gudgeon. Capstone topic: “What is the impact of access to transportation on health outcomes of vulnerable populations?”
  • Camryn Halboth and Ella Thompson. Capstone topic: “How do women become leaders in rural Dominican Republic? A reflective narrative case study approach.”
  • Matthew Irby. Capstone topic: “What is the impact of collective organizing on reducing accidental injuries in the apparel or garment industry?”
  • Sarah Kramer. Capstone topic: “What is the impact of decreasing ambient air pollution on the number of asthma hospitalizations of children?”
  • Alexandra McDermott. Capstone topic: “What is the effectiveness of prenatal and maternal health care programs on reducing premature birth and mortality rates of infants in developing countries?”
  • Bridget McManamon. Capstone topic: “What is the impact of improved access to menstrual hygiene products on employment of women in low and lower-middle income countries?”
  • Hannah Mosher. Capstone topic: “What is the impact of maternal education in reducing maternal and infant mortality rates in low-income African countries?”

Also graduating are Cecilia Myers and John Oberst.