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Kit Bond aims to help students get international experience

ST. LOUIS — Kit Bond is spearheading a new program looking to give Missouri students an international experience.

The two-term Governor, one-term State Auditor, and four-term U.S. Senator has set up the Bond International Scholars Program, which is awarding college students $5,000 scholarships towards study abroad opportunities. The first class of recipients included 10 students who will study out of the country in the spring of 2019.

“I hope that this will grow as an ongoing program to encourage University of Missouri students to study abroad to get the experiences they need to be better international citizens,” said Bond.  

The initial class of scholars is made up of five students from the University of Missouri-Columbia — Alex Beattie, Caroline Been, Sewit Belete, Madison Czopek, and Oliva Hunt — and five students from the University of Missouri-St. Louis — Cole Alves, Eric Eggers, Jordan McCain, Sara McFarland, and Lauren Wilson.

The scholars plan to study in a range of countries around the world from Switzerland to Japan, Chile to Russia. The students have a variety of focus areas encompassing computer science, international studies, journalism, clinical and diagnostic sciences, engineering, and more.  

“Studying abroad will be a very mind-broadening experience,” said Bond. “[The students] will get to know the particular country they are in and learn to work with people in other countries and other cultures. [It] will also give them an appreciation of how there are differences throughout the world and that by working together we can overcome those differences.”

The program actually began as a lecture series at the University of Missouri-Columbia a few years ago. Several notable folks with vast international experience spoke to students, but Bond noted that “one lecture, in and out, was not giving [students] the breadth of experience” he had hoped.

So, Bond worked with university officials to shift the focus to funding international experiences for students and expanding the programs reach to include the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

“I wanted to make sure that today’s students begin to have some of the same kind of experiences I have had,” said Bond.

Bond grew up in an international business family in Mexico, Missouri. His father traveled three months out of the year and, when Bond was younger, the entire family traveled as well. His international experience continued growing as Missouri’s Governor and then Missouri’s U.S. Senator. He has been recognized for his work on global trade and economic development.

It is that background that has made this program so important to Bond, who now works as a practicing attorney and chairman of Kit Bond Strategies.

“From my family upbringing to my times serving Missouri as Governor and Senator, I found it was very important,” said Bond.