North Park senior Noor Alyasiry received two prestigious scholarships to study abroad this past summer: the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and the Fund for Education Abroad. As Noor prepared her applications for study abroad, she wasn’t sure how she would source the travel funds. Study Abroad Advisor Tessa Zanoni stepped in to help Noor identify and secure the scholarships she needed.
Tessa knew that as a commuter student, Muslim American woman, and pre-med biology major, Noor would be a strong applicant for the prestigious Gilman International Scholarship — a US Department of State grant with a focus on supporting students who have been historically underrepresented in education abroad. Similarly, the Fund for Education Abroad, while selecting from a competitive application pool, was a strong match for Noor’s qualifications and needs.
Tessa was also able to assist Noor in choosing the best study abroad program for her. Noor was set to graduate in December 2019, so her study abroad courses needed to match her final credit requirements. “Tessa gave me hope and reassurance about the applications and essays.” said Noor. “She always had time to see me and was with me throughout the entire process, checking classes to ensure they met my requirements.”
Noor chose to study at the American College of Greece, one of few schools that she found to offer upper level biology courses during the summer term. Noor would attend the college along with a group of students from across the globe, experiencing Greece and its culture together. “It was a big culture shock when I first arrived there. Not everyone spoke English, so it was a bit of a roadblock. We were able to communicate with locals through hand gestures, so it worked out in the end.”
Along with the culture shock came Noor’s first truly independent experience. Traveling on her weekends breaks, Noor visited Rome, Paris, Vienna, Cairo, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Barcelona, and more. “My favorite place was Amsterdam. Although we walked 12 miles that day, it was amazing.” It was travelling from city to city, country to country that helped Noor become more independent quickly. “I benefited a lot from the trips because we had to control it ourselves. Being on my own made me more independent.”
Noor attributes much of her decision to study abroad to the support she received from NPU’s Office of International affairs. “Tessa was a big part of it all. If it wasn’t for her support, the scholarships would have seemed out of reach.” The support didn’t stop after Noor began her journey to Greece, as Tessa continued to check in with her throughout the summer.
Noor is now busy in her last semester and getting ready to take the next steps towards becoming a physician: studying for the MCAT and applying to medical school. Looking back at her time at North Park, Noor is grateful for the experiences that have prepared her for what’s next. “I came to NPU last minute, and when I got here it felt like the best decision of my life.”
You can read more about Noor’s summer travels on her FEA blog.