Kirkwood student John Bruce in Tanzania during the summer of 2012
Only two-year college in Iowa earning recognition
“Start Here, Go Anywhere.”
Kirkwood Community College’s motto certainly rings true for the 25,000 annual students pursuing higher education through the two-year college. But for those who study abroad through Kirkwood, it’s a pretty literal term.
The Institute of International Education (IIE) announced its list of the top 27 two-year colleges in the nation, each annually sending more than 50 students on study abroad excursions. With 133 students traveling to other countries to study and learn in the 2011-12 academic year, Kirkwood is the only college in Iowa on the list, and one of just three from the Midwest.
“Being recognized by the Institute of International Education is a testament to the emphasis Kirkwood puts on international education,” said International Programs Director Dawn Wood. “We have faculty members that are dedicated to leading study abroad programs, we’ve formed great partnerships with community colleges from around the world and we offer $1,000 scholarships to the majority of students who participate. You won’t find many places around the country doing that.”
In the 2000-2001 school year, just 17 students studied abroad through Kirkwood, going to only a couple of locations. Now Kirkwood offers 15 short-term programs to 13 countries, and five semester-long academic experiences to four countries. The short-term programs typically last from 10 days to three weeks. Students are required to take at least one academic course to frame the educational experience.
This year a program to Peru and a second program to Vietnam were added to Kirkwood’s offerings. Both of these are service-learning opportunities, where students volunteer their time abroad helping those in need.
“We continue to focus on adding additional programs with service-focused learning opportunities, and there are waiting lists for some,” said Wood. “When our students and faculty members return from these experiences, they tell other students and colleagues how much the program impacted their lives.
“The enriching experience of truly connecting with other cultures in a meaningful way is life-changing. More people than ever are choosing this service focus, because of the enrichment and learning it provides.”
Kirkwood Community College’s commitment to international education is also evidenced in its ranking in the number of international students studying at a college or university in Iowa. The IIE released its top-five list in the state of Iowa, and Kirkwood was the only two-year institution on it, with 276 international students studying at the college last year.