Award for Academic Achievement Abroad

Meaningful, rigorous academics are pillar of education abroad programming that require critical thinking, analysis, and creativity. Pursuing academic endeavors abroad poses unique challenges and opportunities for students to development a richer understanding of other cultures and societies as well as themselves.

The Award for Academic Achievement Abroad recognizes sophisticated and thoughtful academic projects that occur as part of education abroad programs. Through the award, we aim to highlight the full range of academic excellence that can be achieved through education abroad experiences, in the fine arts and humanities, social sciences, and STEM disciplines.

For education abroad professionals in The Forum’s network, this award underscores the important ways that education abroad impacts student learning and reminds us of some of the reasons why we do what we do.

2022 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad

The Forum congratulates the recipient of the 2022 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad. Kiya presented her project and accepted her award at the virtual awards presentation of the hybrid 19th Annual Conference.

photograph of Kiya Henderson, smiling at the camera in a yellow t-shirt

 Kiya Henderson
Nominating member: Pomona College
Program: Global Health and Human Rights Program, School for International Training (SIT) Kenya Study Abroad
Project: “A Retrospective Analysis of Maternal Mortality in Kisumu, Kenya from March 2021 to March 2022: The Effects of Proximal and Distal Factors on Maternal Outcomes.”


  1. Nominations must be submitted by the Forum Institutional Representative* at a current institutional member of The Forum. The nominating member may be the student’s home institution, host institution, or independent program provider organization. Each member may submit no more than two nominations.
    *If you aren’t sure of your member status or of who your Institutional Representative is, contact us at
  2. Nominated student must have been:
    • an undergraduate student participating in an education abroad program at the time the academic work was conducted; and
    • enrolled as an undergraduate student in the 6 months prior to the submission deadline (that is, not having graduated more than six months before the deadline).
  3. The nominated project must be completed. It may be conducted in any academic discipline, and can include collaborative research projects conducted jointly and co-authored by students and faculty.
  4. For the award, “academic project” is understood in its broadest possible sense: complex site-based research, papers considering a single topic, convening of education or cultural events, and projects realized in electronic or traditional artistic media.


All nominations received in their entirety prior to the deadline will be read and scored by two (2) faculty reviewers. Faculty reviewers are individuals with advanced training in the discipline in for which the student is nominated and have experience teaching in the subject area, working with undergraduate students on academic projects in the discipline, and familiarity with education abroad opportunities.

Nominations are rated based on:

  • level of scholarship,
  • degree of innovation,
  • leveraging of the resources distinctive to the program site,
  • incorporation of knowledge of local culture and language in the project,
  • faculty recommendation,
  • and the nominee’s own description of how the experience transformed them.

Faculty scores and comments are then evaluated by the members of the Award for Academic Achievement Abroad Selection Committee, who select the winners. Students identified as finalists may be invited to a phone or Skype conversation to discuss their work with 1-2 members of The Forum’s Award for Academic Achievement Abroad Selection Committee prior to selecting a winner.


Nomination Instructions

Nominations may only be submitted by the Institutional Representative of a Forum member organization. The Forum is unable to accept forms sent independently of the Institutional Representative.*

*If you aren’t sure of your member status or of who your Institutional Representative is, contact us at

Nominations must be submitted in English, even if the academic work was conducted and/or the project completed in another language.

A complete nomination includes the following:

Nomination Form completed by nominating member’s Institutional Representative, this must be completed using the online form.

Student Statement completed by nominated student. Students are encouraged to work closely with their faculty nominator and/or Forum Institutional Representative to ensure that these questions are being answered clearly and completely.

This statement should address the following:

  • Briefly describe (one page or less) your education abroad program: Where? When? For how long? What kind of coursework or other experiential learning opportunities did it include?Be sure to explain how the project for which you are being nominating fit in to your overall education abroad experience.
  • Describe your project, including: (approx. two pages, double-spaced);
    • the topic or goals,
    • the methodology or approach used,
    • results or outcomes of the project,
    • the project’s relevance to the applicable academic discipline(s) and/or the community,
    • explicit reference to approval or exempt status for Internal Review Board (IRB) or Animal Care Committee when project involves work with human participants or animals respectively.
  • Describe how your education abroad experience and the time you spent on-site enhanced your learning experience, your personal experience, and your academic, personal, and/or professional goals (approx. one page, double-spaced)
  • The nomination form also includes a space to add a link or upload a document the represents the project output, e.g., photos of artistic productions, links to online portfolios or videos, academic papers, posters, or presentations, etc. We encourage nominees to use this space to their advantage.

Faculty Recommendation should be written by the faculty advisor who is most familiar with the student’s academic work.

In their letter, the faculty member should:

  • Discuss the significance and quality of the nominated student’s project.
  • Provide reasons for supporting the nominated student to receive the award.
  • Place the student’s project within the context of other undergraduate work that the faculty member has known or supervised.
  • Help reviewers understand how the nature of the nominated work is enhanced by the education abroad experience.

*All materials should be submitted in English, regardless of the language of the project or program.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I nominate a graduate student project?
A: No, this award is designed to recognize undergraduate students only.

Q: Can I nominate students who worked on a project as a team?
A: Yes. We are happy to consider nominations of group projects and have given the award to groups in the past. Please prepare a single nomination form for the entire project team.

Q: Can I nominate a project that a student began while studying abroad but finished upon their return home?
A: Yes, we welcome nominations for completed projects that included work not conducted onsite provided that a significant portion of the work was done during the education abroad experience and/or that the project included the time spent on-site as an essential component of its completion.

Q: I would like to nominate a student that has already graduated. May I?
A: Perhaps. We ask that you limit your nominations to students who did not graduate more than six (6) months before our nomination deadline. This means that students who graduated during North American Spring and Summer terms are eligible. The education abroad program for which they are being nominated has to have taken place at some time during their undergraduate academic career.

Q: I would like to nominate a student who participated in a program run by one of my partners. How do I know that the partner hasn’t already nominated them?
A: We recommend speaking with your partner first. If that doesn’t work, you can contact us and we can double-check for you.

Q: I would like to nominate a student who completed their project (partially or completely) online because their program was altered by COVID-19. Are they eligible?
A: Yes. Just be sure that nomination materials

Additional questions can be directed to Amelia Dietrich, Director for Research and Publications,


2021 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad

The Forum congratulates the recipient of the 2021 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad. Emily will present her project at the virtual awards ceremony of the hybrid 18th Annual Conference, “Globally Interconnected: New Opportunities and the Challenge of Change.”

Student: Emily Wilbourne
Nominating member:
Elon University
Program: Semester exchange at Sungkyunkwan University and sponsored research in Seoul, South Korea
Project: “The Impact of Japanese Colonialism on the Religiosity of Korean Seungmu Dance”


2020 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad

The Forum congratulates the recipients of the 2020 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad. Mya and Calder presented their projects at the 17th Annual Conference , held virtually, March 1-5, 2021.

»Meet this year’s winners.

Photograph of AAAA Winner Mya Singleton


Student: Mya Singleton
Nominating member:
University of Virginia
Program: IFE France: Strasbourg Field Study and Internship Program
Project: In Good Faith: The Absence of Informed Consent in the Retroactive Use of Biological Material in Pathological Research



Photograph of AAAA Winner Calder Hollond


Student: Calder Hollond
Nominating member:
Pomona College
Program: SIT Argentina: Public Health in Urban Environments
Project: The perspectives and experiences of professionals in the field of assisted reproduction in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires and Bahía Blanca in 2020


2019 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad

The Forum congratulates the recipients of the 2019 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad. Siri and Taylor presented their projects at the 16th Annual Conference , held virtually, on April 23, 2020.

»Meet the 2019 winners.



Student: Siri Lee
Nominating member:
University of Chicago
Program: Exchange program with Peking University, Beijing, China
Project: “ZÀO: A History of Chinese Dishcourse through Famine and Revolution”
»View Siri’s conference presentation.




Student: Taylor Garner
Nominating member: Elon University
Program: CIEE Liberal Arts Program in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Arabic language program at an-Najah University Arabic Institute in Nablus, Palestine
Project: “Women as Transmitters of Memory in Contexts of Violence and Struggle”
»View Taylor’s conference presentation.


2018 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad

The Forum congratulates the recipients of the 2018 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad. Naomi, Jared and Mackenzie presented their research projects at the 15th Annual Conference in Denver, March 29, 2019.

Naomi Caldwell, winner of the 2018 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad 

Student: Naomi Caldwell 
Nominating member:
Middlebury College
Program: Middlebury-C.V. Starr School in Argentina
Project: “History and Evolution of Monuments: Buenos Aires”

»Watch Naomi’s presentation.



Jared Belsky and Mackenzie Nelsen, winners of the 2018 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad 

Students: Jared Belsky and Mackenzie Nelsen
Nominating member: The Umbra Institute
Program: Food and Sustainability Studies Program
Project: “Cultivating Activism Through Terroir: An Anthropology of Sustainable Winemakers in Umbria, Italy”

»Watch Jared & Mackenzie’s presentation.



2017 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2017 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad. Nathanael and Cassandra will present their research projects at the 14th Annual Conference in Boston, March 23, 2018.

Nathanael Bartosch,, winner of the 2017 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad 

Student: Nathanael Bartosch 
Nominating member:
Eastern Kentucky University
Program: EKU Anthropology Custom Program: Primates in Analabe Gallery Forest, Northern Madagascar
Project: “Lemurs Living Near Farmers (Year 2): Behavioral Study of Endangered Primates”



Cassandra Wanna, winner of the 2017 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad 

Student: Cassandra Wanna
Nominating member: Middlebury College
Program: Middlebury-C.V. Starr School in Jordan
Project: “Life in Blue: Perspectives of Syrian Refugees in Azraq Camp”



2016 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad

The Forum on Education Abroad congratulates the recipients of its 2016 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad:



Student: Shanna Law, Juniata College
Nominating member: BCA Study Abroad
Program: BCA Dunedin
Project: “Geology, evaporative salt accumulation and geoecology at Springvale historic gold mine, Central Otago, New Zealand”




Student: Jeb Polstein, Bowdoin College
Nominating member: South India Term Abroad (SITA)
Program: South India Term Abroad
Project: “Agrarian Freedom in Madurai’s Urban Agriculture”



2015 Undergraduate Research Award

The Forum is proud to announce the two winners of the 2015 Undergraduate Research Awards: Shavonne Stanek of Oberlin College and Pauline Day of Wellesley College. The students’ projects were judged by faculty from Forum member institutions, who found them to be the best examples of the highest quality academic achievements of undergraduates studying abroad.

Student: Shavonne Stanek, Oberlin College
Nominating member: Oberlin College
Program: Tanzania-Zanzibar: Coastal Ecology and Natural Resource Management – School for International Training
Project: “The Pelagic Artisanal Fishing of Mangapwani, Northern Unguja”



Student: Pauline Day, Wellesley College
Nominating member: IFE – Institute for Field Education
Program: Paris Field Study and Internship Program
Project: “A Continual Evolution: The reform of France’s ‘Politique de la Ville’ as an urban peace-building mechanism in the suburbs of Paris”



2014 Undergraduate Research Award

Wesley, Erin and Alexx presented their research at The Forum’s 11th Annual Conference in New Orleans on March 27, 2015.

Erin_Emmons cropped

Wes_Hauser_Picture cropped

Students: Wesley Hauser of Wabash College
and Erin Emmons of the College of the Holy Cross
Nominating member: The School for Field Studies
Program: Rainforest Studies Program
Project:“Putting Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo on the Map: Using Present Distribution
to Assess Habitat Requirements and Identify Areas for Further Surveys”

Alex Temena 1 cropped

Student: Alexx Temeña of Brown University
Nominating member: Antioch Education Abroad
Program: Buddhist Studies in India
Project: “’Others Before Self:’ Buddhist Influences at Tibetan Children’s Village, Selakui”



2013 Undergraduate Research Award

Madison Stevens cropped resizedMadison and Narintohn presented their research in San Diego on April 4, 2014 at The Forum’s Tenth Annual Conference.

Student: Madison Stevens, Franklin University Switzerland
Nominating member: SIT Study Abroad
Program: Uganda: Post-Conflict Transformation, SIT Study Abroad, Gulu, Uganda
Project: “Lara Ngom ii Acoli: Identifying Root Causes and the Impact of Cultural Cataclysm on Land Conflict Resolution in Nwoya District, Northern Uganda”

Narintohn Luangrath croppedStudent: Narintohn Luangrath, Boston College
Nominating member: Boston College
Program: Dublin Internship Program, Boston College
Project: “Tearmainn na héireann: Direct Provision Housing, Child Asylum Seekers, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child”

2012 Undergraduate Research Award

IMG_8454Mary Jane Dempsey (pictured, left), a senior at The College of New Jersey, is a double-major in History and International Studies with a minor in Italian, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. While studying abroad in Bologna, Italy at the Spring Hill College Italy Center she conducted research in order to understand what laws have been constructed by the Italian government to regulate immigration and to study how they affect the lives of immigrants and their means of gaining citizenship. A particular focus of her research was to examine lives of the children of immigrants by conducting interviews with them.

Ellen Broen (pictured, right), a triple major in French, Music and International Studies at the University of Richmond, spent a semester in Paris at Université Vincennes-Saint-Denis (Paris VIII), through the Mission interuniversitaire de coordination des échanges franco-américains Paris-Ile de France (MICEFA), a consortium of most of the Universities of Paris. Her research focused on Giacomo Meyerbeer, a mid-19th century composer who was a mentor to famed German composer Richard Wagner, who Broen discovers through her archival research was the source of prejudice against Meyerbeer.

Mary Jane and Ellen presented their work in Chicago on April 5, 2013 at a plenary session during The Forum’s Ninth Annual Conference.

2011 Undergraduate Research Award

On Friday, March 23, 2012 Award winners Richard Hong and Claire Jenson presented their research at a plenary luncheon at the Forum’s 8th Annual Conference in Denver.

Richard Hong spent a semester in Mexico, where he conducted field research in Tapachula, and commuted between the border towns of Ciudad Hidalgo in Mexico and Tecun Uman in Guatemala. His project used an ethnographic survey that he designed to interview undocumented Central American migrants. Claire Jenson’s project, conducted over the course of a year at the Center for University Programs Abroad (CUPA) in Paris, focused on the history of a medieval illuminated manuscript, searching for sources that revealed its ownership, deciphering its text, and analyzing its decorations.

Where Are They Now?

»Lasting Lessons: Following up with the Recipients of the Undergraduate Research Award (pdf)