5 SIT, Experiment students win Obama-Airbnb scholarships

Announcement Date: September 20, 2022   |   Scholarships, School for International Training, SIT Study Abroad

BRATTLEBORO, Vermont – School for International Training and The Experiment in International Living congratulate the 100 recipients of the Voyager Scholarship, including five with connections to our immersive global programs. The students comprise the inaugural cohort of a new program created by the Obama Foundation and Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, aimed at inspiring students to pursue public service to “bridge divides and help solve our biggest challenges together.”

The scholarship broadly defines "public service” as “a range of fields through which people are committed to creating a more connected, just, and equitable world.”

Three of the scholars are Experiment or SIT Study Abroad alumni, one is currently on an SIT program, and another has been accepted to a spring 2023 program.

The scholarship provides high school juniors with up to $50,000 in financial aid over two years to ease the burden of college debt and pursue meaningful travel experiences. The scholars also gain access to a network of mentors and leaders to support their goals.

During the summer between their junior and senior years, students design and participate in an immersive "summer voyage" focused on their chosen path of service, according to the Obama Foundation website. The scholarship provides $10,000 to support travel and living expenses, while Airbnb covers up to $4,200 toward accommodations for each student.

The Voyager Scholarship is administered by the Obama Foundation and funded by a $100 million personal contribution from Chesky.

After graduation, Airbnb will provide the students with a $2,000 travel credit every year for 10 years to “continue to broaden their horizons and forge new connections throughout their public service careers.”

According to the program website, “President Obama and Brian have different backgrounds, but share the fundamental belief and lived experience that exposure to new places and experiences broaden our horizons, and redefine what we believe is possible.”

Among the 2022 Voyager Scholarship recipients are three students with connections to SIT Study Abroad, and two alumni of The Experiment. The students and their summer voyage goals are:

Naomi Breazeale

Naomi Breazeale, of Hudson, Wisconsin, is a 2019 alumna of The Experiment in South Africa. She attends Hamline University where her major is global studies and Spanish.

I hope to focus on the experiences of religious minority groups within different cultural contexts by expanding on my background researching minority religious groups in Costa Rica.

Isabelle Cole

Isabelle Cole, of Chelmsford, Massachusetts, is an alumna of SIT spring 2022 Morocco: Migration and Transnational Identity. She attends Salve Regina University, where she majors in social work and global studies. Isabelle says her SIT experience in Morocco influenced her summer voyage goal.

After studying immigration in Morocco, I would like to continue working in this field to advocate for more just international immigration policies that support the integration and protection of migrants.

Sierra Kinsler

Sierra Kinsler, of Owings Mills, Maryland, has applied to the spring 2023 SIT program IHP: Cities in the 21st Century: People, Planning, and Politics. Sierra majors in international trade and development at Cornell University.

I plan to focus on the issue of substance use, particularly in young adults. I hope to promote the use of art as an outlet and expose youth to alternatives for social engagements that can be used to combat peer pressure.

Munahil Sultana

Munahil Sultana, of Valley Stream, New York, is currently on the SIT program Jordan: Geopolitics, International Relations, and the Future of the Middle East. Munahil attends Franklin & Marshall College where she majors in government and international studies with a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

I plan to focus on foreign policy and promoting healthy and secure communities for women around the world. I hope to develop policy that leads to a safer world for women and rebuild healthy relationships with the United States in the Middle East Northern Africa (MENA) region.

Leah Whitmoyer

Leah Whitmoyer of Tucker, Georgia, is a 2018 alumna of The Experiment in India. Leah is majoring in biological science at University of Georgia.

I’m interested in exploring water conservation efforts in agriculture in regions facing imminent drought. I’m specifically interested in exploring irrigation techniques and water infrastructure solutions that reduce water use.