In high school, as Scott Lacombe began to weigh his college options, the Lee’s Summit native was looking for a university that was big enough to offer him plenty of academic and extracurricular opportunities, strong programs in the humanities, and allow him to easily transition from his International Baccalaureate high school courses. Above all, Scott wanted to find a university that would allow him to be independent without being too far from his close-knit family. When Scott did decide on Missouri State, he had no idea just how far his academic pursuits would send him.
When Scott first arrived at Missouri State he had a high interest in history and politics stemming from student government opportunities and too many hours in front of cable news. His parents had also instilled in him the growing importance of foreign languages and cultural competency and Scott wanted to continue his pursuit of the Spanish language. Through his first year experiences and first batch of courses, he decided on a double major in Spanish and Political Science with a Public Administration focus.
Scott was certain of one thing when he arrived on campus – he wanted to live in Scholars House, the residence hall reserved for members of the Missouri State University Honors College. “I knew I wanted to meet and live with a group of like-minded, school-focused students; that has been one of the best and most significant decisions in my college career.” Through Scholars House he became involved in Residence Hall Association, Gamma Pi Alpha Honor Fraternity, and multiple on-going volunteer efforts, including The Kitchen and the Joplin Tornado clean-up efforts. Scholars House forced him to continue to strive academically. It also surrounded him in classmates taking advantage of Missouri State’s many and growing study away opportunities, further stoking an interest he’d always had in traveling abroad.
During his junior year Scott discovered a five month study away program in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that would allow him to fully immerse himself in the Spanish language while living with a host family and taking comparative political science and international relations courses. “It was so exciting – the idea of being dropped off in a completely foreign environment, forced to converse solely in a different language, in a city ten times bigger than anywhere I had ever lived.” It was a perfect fit. The only problem was the costs.
College is often the only opportunity individuals have to live abroad in a fully immersive environment. These experiences abroad help students gain valuable language skills and intercultural abilities. Many students also report increased independence and maturity, expanded educational interests, improved problem-solving skills, and improved employability. However, the costs are often prohibitive, with students having to pay for tuition, international travel expenses, passport fees, and room and board at increased cost of living levels. “Studying away is very expensive, and without assistance it wouldn’t have been possible for me or many other students,” Scott stated.
Thanks to the generosity of individuals that deeply value education and have a passion for improving the Missouri State student experience, Scott’s academic and extracurricular rigor reaped him multiple scholarships that assisted with his Fall 2013 Buenos Aires study away experience. That assistance included the Alice Bartee Scholarship and the Ballinger-Colón-Compton Award. The Alice Bartee Scholarship, established in the mid-1990s by friends, former students, and co-workers of the beloved emeritus Political Science professor, recognizes the top senior majoring in Political Science that shows promise towards pursuing graduate or law school. Since its creation in the mid-1990s, the Ballinger-Colón-Compton Award has assisted dozens of students majoring in Spanish or Spanish Education with expenses to study abroad in Spanish speaking nations. The fund honors three prominent emeriti Spanish professors – Dr. Rex Ballinger, Mr. Francisco Colón, and Ms. V. Florence Compton – and was established by former students and co-workers.
Scott noted, “It is truly amazing that people are willing to help out strangers year after year through these scholarships. I think that it shows the high-level of dedication incredible professors can create in their students. These professors have created a legacy of excellence in education at Missouri State and that legacy continues to change student lives, like my own, to this day.”
Give to the Alice Bartee Scholarship:
- Click here to contribute to Alice Bartee Scholarship
Give to the Ballinger-Colón-Compton Award:
- Click here to contribute to Ballinger-Colón-Compton Award
Give to Funds Benefiting Study Away:
- Click here to contribute to Study Away Programs Funds
Read the latest from Scott on his blog, My Semester Abroad
Pictures used with permission of Scott Lacombe.