WMU News

Alumna awarded prestigious Rotary scholarship

March 7, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Tanya M. Pulver, a 2000 graduate of Western Michigan University from Mount Pleasant, Mich., has won a 2001-02 Academic-Year Ambassadorial Scholarship of up to $25,000 from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.

After submitting her scholarship application through the Kalamazoo Rotary club, the West Michigan District of Rotary International selected Pulver to receive the award out of a pool of applicants from the west half of Michigan.

Pulver received a bachelor of arts degree in biomedical sciences and Spanish from WMU this past December. She will use the Rotary scholarship to pursue a master's degree in development and gender studies at the Universidad Mayor de San Simon in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

"Winning an ambassadorial scholarship is analogous to winning a Fulbright Grant to study abroad at the graduate level," says Dr. Howard J. Dooley, executive director of WMU's Office of International Affairs.

"Tanya is the first Western Michigan University student in my memory to be awarded one of these scholarships," adds Dooley, who has been at WMU since 1970 and sponsored Pulver's application at the local level. "She's an extraordinary young woman and richly deserves this very prestigious competitive award."

Rotary International is an organization of business and professional leaders that encompasses about 29,000 clubs in 163 countries. The organization focuses on providing humanitarian services, encouraging high ethical standards in all vocations, and helping to build goodwill and peace in the world.

With those goals in mind, the Rotary Foundation offers three types of student grants: the Academic-Year Ambassadorial Scholarship, which supports one year of study abroad; the Multi-Year Ambassadorial Scholarship, which supports two to three years of specific degree-oriented study abroad, and the Cultural Ambassadorial Scholarship, which supports three to six months of intensive language study and cultural immersion in another country.

The scholarships range in value from $11,000 to $25,000 and cover round-trip transportation costs, academic fees, room and board expenses, and some educational supplies. To be considered for the awards, applicants must obtain endorsements from their local Rotary club and district.

Scholarship winners act as "ambassadors of goodwill" during their study abroad, working to further international understanding and appearing as representatives of their homelands at various functions sponsored by Rotary clubs and districts, schools, and civic organizations.

"Living and studying in Bolivia next year as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar will help me become more aware of the health concerns in developing countries, the setting in which I hope to work as a physician in the future," Pulver says.

She adds that her work with two Southwest Michigan clinics last summer as a medical interpreter for WMU's Rural Health Education Program Summer Institute on Migrant Farmworker Health reinforced the value of studying abroad.

"It was a great learning experience for me because it made me realize how important cultural sensitivity and awareness are within the medical setting," she explains. "The language barrier is not the only obstacle to delivering optimum health care. It is extremely important that health care providers try to understand the social and cultural contexts in which their patients live."

Many of Pulver's experiences while enrolled at WMU have enhanced that understanding.

She spent 12 months at the University of Santiago, Chile, studying Latin American history, politics and culture. While there, she volunteered at a home for sick children, conducted research on the Chilean public health system, and conducted research on women's activism and identity in Chile.

Pulver also traveled to Peru three times in three years as part of medical missions organized by the Peruvian American Medical Society. As a mission member, she served as an interpreter for doctors and nurses, helped to set up clinics, an delivered hygiene kits and toys to orphans.

Locally, she was a volunteer for organizations such as Community AIDS Resource and Education Services, the First Presbyterian church's free health clinic, WMU's Career English Language Center for International Students, and WMU's component of two national service programs for college students--Alternative Spring Break and Alternative Winter Experience.

Pulver was a member of WMU's Lee Honors College, Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. While a student, she received numerous awards from the University, including a Medallion Scholarship, WMU's highest honor for a freshman; a President's Award for Study Aboard; and an Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Award.

In addition, she conducted research in a biochemistry laboratory, served as an assistant to a biological sciences professor, and interned at the Southwest Michigan Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Pulver is the daughter of Janet and Robert Pulver of Mount Pleasant.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
616 387-8400