Two WKU graduates have received 2012 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships from the Rotary Foundation to travel to Africa to complete graduate coursework and engage in service.
Lindsey Filiatreau of Bardstown and Lindsey Houchin of Bowling Green are the third and fourth Rotary Ambassadorial recipients from WKU in three years.
Filiatreau spent a significant amount of time researching the effectiveness of and building water catchment systems in Kasigau, Kenya, during her undergraduate career. Now, as an alumnus of the Honors College at WKU and the chemistry and biology departments, she will immerse herself in the culture of Ghana as she explores her educational and research interests in the field of global public health.
“I have primarily focused my undergraduate studies on preparing myself for medical school; however, after my experiences in Kenya, I began to question my commitment to spending the rest of my life as a doctor,” she said. “Through these experiences in research, and education, I think I will have a better understanding of how I personally can best give back to the world and serve others.”
Filiatreau said that she chose to apply for the award because it is designed to promote global leadership and cooperation and allows students to continue their studies at a university away from their home school. The motto of the Rotary club also attracted Filiatreau.
“This concept of ‘Service above Self’ is one that has served as a strong motivating factor for the things I have done in life and the things I have planned for my future,” she said. “When hearing of the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship and what Rotary International stands for, I knew I had to apply.”
While at WKU, Filiatreau completed her Honors Capstone Experience/Thesis on research she conducted while in Kenya. Biology Professor Michael Stokes served as her thesis advisor and mentor.
“Lindsey was an exemplary student because of her willingness to go outside of her comfort zone. She traveled to Africa to scientifically evaluate roof water collection and seek solutions to problems,” Dr. Stokes said. “This important project showed people that there was a way they could inexpensively improve their livelihoods by improving their ability to collect and use water. She dealt with many difficult circumstances while living abroad and did the things that, I think, a good citizen of the world should do.”
“Without the support of the Honors College, it would not have been possible for me to travel to Kenya which has greatly prepared me to begin my Ambassadorial Scholarship,” Filiatreau said.
Houchin earned her degree in English and allied language arts knowing that she wanted to spread the values of literacy, leadership and self-motivated learning. For her placement with the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, she will be in South Africa, continuing her education at the University of Johannesburg.
Houchin credits the Honors College at WKU for much of her success.
“From the start of my college career, the WKU Honors College has challenged me to seek experiences that will help me grow as a person, be they in the classroom, in the community, in another city or in another country,” she said. “In addition, studying within the WKU Honors College has aligned me with encouraging and supportive professors and advisors, as well as other motivated students who pursue big dreams.”
Aric Johnson, a previous recipient of the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, encouraged Houchin to apply and to work with the Office of Scholar Development.
“I have to admit that I considered it ‘just a dream’ at first,” she said. “ Working with the Office of Scholar Development (OSD) gave me invaluable insight throughout the process that I would not have otherwise had. Because of the preparation I had done, I was confident going into the district interview, which was a large part of the scholarship selection process.”
Houchin also received support from her university advisor and educational mentor, Professor Walker Rutledge.
“I can think of nobody more qualified to be awarded a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. She truly represents the best of the best here at WKU,” Rutledge said. “As a summa cum laude graduate with a major in English, Ms. Houchin distinguished herself both in terms of academics and in terms of campus and community involvement.”
A highly involved student on WKU’s campus and in the Bowling Green community, Houchin was able to transition from a leadership role in her sorority to a position in the national headquarters office. She will continue to work in chapter development before her time in South Africa.
“Previous leadership experiences gave me the confidence to push my own limits and chase achievements that would have once seemed out of reach, and the support of my closest friends and advisors gave me the support I needed to chase such a big dream,” she said.
Rotary International, the world’s first service club, established the Rotary Foundation for students who have a strong desire to serve others and continue their education abroad. Students may present academic, research, and service goals based around one of six topics, peace and conflict prevention/resolution disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development. To be eligible for the award, approximately $30,000 per year, a student must enroll in an international graduate school and continue professional studies.
About the Office of Scholar Development: OSD is committed to helping students on all WKU campuses and in all majors and degree programs develop the vision, experience and skills to be independent, engaged scholars. OSD welcomes the opportunity to work with students interested in opportunities to conduct research or gain experience abroad. For information, contact the Office of Scholar Development at (270) 745-5043 or Dr. Audra Jennings at email@example.com.
About the Honors College at WKU: WKU is home to the only Honors College in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Created in 2007, the Honors College at WKU provides an intimate, highly selective learning environment where college-age gifted and high-achieving students can develop the skills to prepare them for success in the nation’s top academic and career opportunities. For more information, call (270) 745-2081 or contact Eileen Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Audra Jennings, (270) 745-5043.