Office of International Programs

USM's Kaufman Recipients


The first DARA J. KAUFMAN Scholarship was awarded to a USM student in the Fall of 2007 and since then an additional 16 scholarships have been awarded to USM students studying all over the world. These amazing scholarships have made study abroad opportunities possible for students who otherwise might not have been able to afford them.

The recipients have shared some of their insights about their journey and a few photos below. Enjoy!

Spring 2016 Peter Peterson, University of Leicester, England
Fall 2015 Noah Cordega, Radboud University, the Netherlands
Spring 2015 Myra Grace Foxen, Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Mexico 
Fall 2014 Kayla Caiazzo, University of Leicester, England
Spring 2014 Anastasia Muca: Kingston University, London, England
Fall 2013 Nicole LaPlante, Universita delgi Studi della Tuscia, Italy
Spring 2013 Mariah Callendar, Universitat de Autonoma Barcelona, Spain 
Hilary Dion, University College Galway, Ireland
Spring 2012 Scott Clavette, Keele University, England
Fall 2011 Anne Hebson, Universidad de Salamanca, Spain 
Spring 2011 Brittany Michaud, University of Granada, Spain
Fall 2010 Krista Jamison, Lorenzo di'Medici in Florence, Italy
Spring 2010 Maria Burdick: University of Queensland, Australia
Fall 2009 Andre Juarez: Beijing Language & Culture University, China
Spring 2009 Sabrina Hammond, Yunnan University, China
Spring 2008 Courtney Albin, American University in Rome, Italy
Fall 2007 Steven Carlock, University of Winchester, England

 Myra Grace Foxen: Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Mexico

As a non-traditional, first generation college student, I have always been my own support group when it comes to my college education. Because I have always had a job in conjunction with my class schedule, I approach my education with a sense of the work world and have always tried to gain as much well rounded experience as I can, to make myself stand out. As a Fine Art major, I also have come to realize that my personal creative force is largely a result of my travels, and the diverse environments and situations I have put myself in. The more variety of experiences I have, the easier I learn to adapt myself to any situation and relate to all types of people. The more I travel and expand my mind, soaking in the visuals of a new environment, the more resources I am able to draw upon in my own artistic practice. Diversity feeds my creative force and defines my sense of self, which I find I can seen more clearly when what I am used to is starkly juxtaposed against the new things I experience.

For a long time I told myself I would not be able to afford to study abroad during my undergrad program, but I am thankful to say that one day a hair of curiosity led me to see if I could somehow make it work. With the help of the study abroad advisors at USM, I discovered the Kaufman Scholarship, and began the application process to study in Mexico. I chose Mexico because I had a background in Spanish, and had visited briefly once before. The two mediums I use in my artwork are ceramics and textiles. Mexico has long fostered a culture that supports craftsmanship, innovative architecture, fashion, fine arts and music. The country both thrives in the folk and craft genre while continuing to lead in the contemporary art world as well. It is Mexico’s unique mixture of the past and present that captures and holds my attention. The vibrancy is everywhere, giving every handmade object a spirit that is very much alive.

I approached my travels with the notion that I would soak up every drop of color, every sweet and spicy molecule of the chili covered mangos, and every note of music waking me up in the mornings. I was going to save my soul from hibernating in another austere New England winter. With the help of my scholarship I was able to feel comfortable enough to not only pay my rent each month, but to go on adventures as often as I could! On weekends I alternated between exploring the neighboring municipals of Guadalajara’s artisan villages, and taking cheap flights to Mexico City where I attended international art fairs and large music festivals.

  My trip was not only a chance for me to delve deeper into learning the Spanish language, but to soak up the topical colors, the warmth of the people, and the pulsing creativity everywhere. I grew in so many ways, and by the end of my trip I did not want to come home. I had grown to love the people who exceeded all my expectations and generalizations. I feel that the more I travel the more I realize that all people are the same-we love good food, we love to connect, and we love to feel understood and inspired by one another-but it’s our differences that keep the world vibrant and alive. I was told that Mexico would be a dangerous place, especially for a female traveling alone. But I realized that no matter where you are, people are inclined to keep each other safe. I never felt scared because every new friend and taxi driver I met would give me tips on staying safe and enjoying the culture to its fullest without every needing to be afraid. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world, and I am so grateful I was able to soak up so much inspiration for my own artistic practice, as well as practice and grow my skills in the Spanish language. 


Kayla Caiazzo: Universita of Leicester in England


I am at the midway point of my time abroad, which is amazing and hard to comprehend at the same time. My time in England has been an indescribable experience, and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I am a language student, and my choice to come to England was based on my love of dialects and the English language, and my love of English culture. I am extremely grateful for receiving the scholarship as it affected my choice of destinations, and I was able to go where I wished to. And what a rewarding experience it has been. I am taking six courses at the University of Leicester over the course of the year, and it has been quite interesting seeing the differences between the teaching styles of the two universities. It is certainly a different academic experience, as in England there is more focus on a final assessment rather than a grade balanced between coursework and exams like at USM. I also have many travel plans around Europe and the UK for the spring and it will be amazing to cross some of the destinations off of my bucket list. 

 I have made so many friends from all around the world while here in Leicester, and I can't wait to meet many of the new arrivals in the spring semester. People study in Leicester from 

 so many different places, and I now have friends from Australia, Uruguay, Latvia, England of course, and many more. They are all such wonderful people. One of my more memorable experiences happened the first night I arrived when I had just moved into my room for the year, and I was pretty nervous and rather freaked out with being in a foreign country alone for the first time. There was a knock on my door, and standing there were a couple of people that have since become my best friends here. Talking with them for hours that night was such a wonderful experience, and they made me feel completely at home. I am so glad that I was able to come here, and I sincerely thank the Kaufman family for helping me get here. I have learned so much about the world and about myself, and I already want to be able to come back in the future.

Nicole Laplante: Universita degli Studi della Tuscia in Italy

My four months of studying abroad has been the best time of my life so far. I lived in a small, old, and truly authentic Italian town. A lot of people didn’t speak any English, so coming in without knowing any Italian was a difficult challenge for me. I slowly picked up bits of the language in my Italian class and just walking along the streets, and soon learned enough to order food, buy things at the store, or explain something to my landlord.

Luckily, most of the Italian students at my university were studying languages so I was able to speak English with them. I had a language partner whom I met with from time to time to help her English and she my Italian. I made lots of other Italian friends who I will continue to stay in touch with.

One of the most rewarding experinces I had while abroad was volunteering at a local elementary school. Each week I came into my class of rowdy 4th graders with a game or lesson I made to help them learn English. I was so surprised with how much they already knew, as well as how well they were able to pick up the new vocabulary or phrases I taught them. They made my desire to learn new languages and develop relationships with people from other countries so much stronger.  

I was lucky enough to do some traveling both in and out of Italy while abroad. Within Italy, I went to the cities of Rome, Naples, Cinque Terre, Florence, Cortona, Pisa, Lucca, Siena, Pompeii, and Venice. Outside of Italy, I visited frineds studying in London and Copenhagen. I also went to Bacelona and Paris. I loved every new experience I had at all these cities. I am a more independent, culturally aware, accepting, and spontanious person since experiencing life in a different place. I cannot thank the Kaufman family and contributors to the scholarship enough for this amazing experience!

Mariah Callendar: Universitat de Autonoma Barcelona

I find it extremely hard to come up with the right words to describe my time abroad. Amazing, incredible, fascinating, and unbelievable is what I find myself using the most, but ultimately it was indescribable. That being said I will attempt to explain my experience abroad. In the spring of 2013 I studied abroad in the most beautiful city I’ve ever been to, Barcelona. I am a Business Administration major and was able to learn so much more about international business and marketing while I was abroad, but the experience itself is where I received the majority of the knowledge I came home with. When you study abroad everything becomes brand new to you again, it’s like learning how to walk for the first time and the satisfaction of being able to navigate around a new city where there is minimal English spoken is a huge success in itself. I take the most pride in the everyday experiences I faced and was able to overcome in the new city I called home.

While in Barcelona, I lived in an apartment with three other girls and lived very close to the dorms, where the rest of the students lived. I made some of the best friends I have ever had and continue to keep in touch with them. Being a business major and only studying Spanish in high school, it was all very new to me and at times hard to keep up, but I am a firm believer that there is no better way to learn a language than being placed in the middle of a city where it is spoken constantly. I learned an incredible amount of vocabulary and by the end of the semester I was able to hold full conversations in Spanish.

I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to study abroad, but it wouldn’t have been made possible without the Kaufman family and their generosity. I have always had to work very hard for everything I wanted and money hasn’t always come easy, so when I learned that I had received the scholarship I was in tears. Once I was in Europe I knew that I needed to take full advantage of this new adventure because I may never be back. In the short four months that I studied in Barcelona, I was able to travel to London, Paris, Florence, Dublin, the Canary Islands and Ibiza, which is a small Island off the coast of Spain. A friend who was also studying in Barcelona had informed me of the cheapest and most efficient ways to travel and I took full advantage. I was so fortunate to be able to see all of these different amazing places, but all in all Barcelona was my favorite place to be and I still consider it to be my home. Hopefully these photos can help paint a picture of my time abroad. I hope you can enjoy them as much as I do.


Hilary Dion: University College Galway, Ireland

Simple Mainer to Galway Gal:

Receiving this Kaufman scholarship completely changed my consideration of going abroad. Money for me was the biggest issue when embarking on this outrageously nerve-racking excursion. I was blessed to have this financial assistance to be able to experience such a life changing opportunity. I had never been on a plane let alone made any trips to Europe. Ireland was an easy choice for me because my boss of almost 7 years advised me to go, he said going would change my life, and it did. I decided to make this trip 100% for me. Therefore I took out a private loan, went on my own (without a group), and made it a point to make all the arrangements. Tasks such as finding a place to live, coming up with a budget, dealing with all the bills and responsibilities at home, and trying to still graduate early weighed heavy as my plane ride to another world came closer. I had the opportunity of building a new life for myself. I met my roommates when I got there and still remain close to them. I was able to travel to 10 countries while I was there, often “couch surfing” on natives stranger’s couches to save money and also absorb the culture as much as possible. I took five courses at the National University of Galway and focused on my studies because the classes and schooling there was quite different than here. I also joined the swim team in order to meet as many Irish students as possible. The beginning of my trip was probably the hardest. I was more homesick than I ever imagined and also forced to emerge myself into the culture quickly because I knew my time there would really fly by. I am fortunate to have received the positive experiences and memories while having been abroad and would advise anyone to grasp the opportunity if given the chance. I consider my self a stronger person for having taken that leap into the unknown world of Ireland. I also feel that see the world with a new set of eyes and am in fact planning a trip to go back soon. I thank the Kaufman family for the opportunity of a scholarship and aiding in my transformation from a simple Mainer to a cultural Galway Gal. 


Kristina Jamison: Lorenzo di'Medeici in Italy

I am an Art Student at the University of Southern Maine and in the Fall of 2010 I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. I learned more about art, culture and myself then I could have ever imagined. I inst a  ntly found myself intrigued and excited when  landing in Florence. The city was already beautiful. I met some amazing people from all over the world and got to travel throughout Europe over the semester and tackled some of my main goals, like skiing in Switzerland and traveling to Germany for Oktoberfest, and that's just naming a few.Street in Italy

I found real comfort in the Italian culture and the county. I traveled throughout Italy and found the most magnificent views and sites I had ever seen, truly unexplainable. As an artist, I found so much inspiration from everything around me, that it made my classes inviting and refreshing. Some of my favorite experiences were drawing throughout the city of Florence, learning Italian, eating amazing Italian cuisine, discovering the European lifestyle and expanding my view on life as well as maturing as an individual.

Studying abroad has been the time of my life and has opened my eyes to the world. I'm already planning on going back. The scholRural Italyarship helped me achieve many of my goals that I probably wouldn't have been able to do without it. I truly appreciate the help and support.






Andre Juarez: Beijing Language & Cultural University and Xian Intrnational Studies University in China

Wow! If I had to pick one word to describe my time in China it would be wow. Yak in ChinaThere are just so many amazing things I saw and participated in that I don’t quite know where to start, so I guess the beginning is as good as any. I started my interest in China when I was a child. Like most kids, I found anything Chinese to be foreign and strange, yet really cool at the same time. Dragons, the Great Wall, Kung Fu, and of course, Chinese food (which isn’t really Chinese food at all). I entered USM in the fall of 2006 and took my first Chinese course with Professor Zhao in the fall of 2008. After that course I knew immediately what I wanted to study and do with my life. I applied to the Alliance for Global Education and was accepted into their Beijing and Xi’an programs.

My first semester was in the ever more modern, unbelievably large metropolis of Beijing. Describing the size to someone who has never been in a city of its magnitude is hard to do. There I started my Chinese language studies, and made really slow progress. The language was very hard for me to learn. While I was in Beijing, I lived in an international dorm and met tons of people from all over the world. My next stop was Xi’an, China for the spring semester. The best way to describe Xi’an for someone familiar with USM, would be to imagine a city like Portland…and now place 6 million people in it. Xi’an is a very crammed city with 6 million Chinese living a very traditional Chinese lifestyle. Most people have never come into contact with many foreigners, and knowing how to speak Chinese is crucial. My language level made great progress while inSand dune in China Xi’an. In Xi’an my coursework focused on the study of the Silk Road, and we took two excursions to ancient cities along the Silk Road. The first trip focused around Xiahe, the city where the 2008 Tibetan riots broke out in China. There I played basketball with Tibetan Monks 10,000 ft up in the mountains, and met a living Buddha. My next trip was to Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where we traveled to the ancient city of Kashgar, hiked sand dunes in the Taklamakan desert, and much more. Xinjiang is a wholly Muslim country where the population is made up primarily of Uighur Muslims. For this reason I was able to learn a great deal of Uighur language as well. As a Muslim myself I found this part of my trip to be particularly exciting and interesting. In Kashgar I was even able to pray in one of the oldest Mosques in the world. The best part about my Silk Road trip was that a film crew followed us on our journey in order to make a documentary! All in all my trip was the trip of a life time. I have done things and seen things I thought was never possible. I am the first person in my family to travel abroad, and I would not have been able to do that without the funds provided by the Kaufman scholarship. It truly made a huge difference. Furthermore, and most importantly, I have made friendships with kids from all around the world that will last a lifetime.


Sabrina Hammond: Yunnan University in China

This February I left the U.S. to study Mandarin Chinese at Yunnan University in China. This is something I had dreamed about for years, but until then had never really thought I'd be able to make it a reality. Although I had been accepted into the study abroad program, I wasn't sure where I was going to come up with the money. When I found out I was the recipiLittle Boy from Chinaent of the Kaufman scholarship, I finally knew I was going to China! Studying abroad impacted me in so many ways. I got to study what I am passionate about and use it on a daily basis. I learned to appreciate a culture with completely different values from my own, and I taught my international friends about American culture. Best of all, I made friends from not just China but all over the world who I will continue to stay in contact with. One of my favorite experiences was winning third place in my school's (the International Students College of Yunnan University) karaoke competition! I also loved going out to lunch with my teachers and classmates - which happened on numerous occasions. My Chinese teachers ordered popular, authentic dishes for the table which we all ate family-style. The thing I cherish the most, though, was meeting a young Chinese girl who became my best friend and later, my roommate. She showed me great kindness, caring, and respect, helped me when I was confused, and taught me how to cook real Chinese food!"


Courtney Albin: American University in Rome, Italy

I always worked while I went to school and took out a sizeable loan to pay for study study abroad, so the Kaufman Scholarship allowed me to have a source of money to be able to experience Europe while I was there. The faith showed in me by awarding the scholarship made me feel I would not be doing it justice if I didn't see and experience as much as I could while I was there. Travel was expensive with the low value of the dollar so to have the opportunity to travel made this the experience of a lifetime.Athens, Greece

I had the opportunity to see and experience things that others never had the opportunity to do. My Art History class was an onsite class that allowed me to actually see Art that others here only see and read about in text books or on slides. History of Rome was my favorite class and I actually got to to to the site of the Chariot Races and the Ancient Roman ruins. Because I was there, I wanted to see where everything I read about had happened and actually feel the history and culture.

I was fortunate to have many amazing experiences. I traveled to Switzerland and despite having only been on skis three times in my life before, I went skiing down the Swiss Alps. Also, I went sky diving over the Alps. The inner strength I found I had and the sense of accomplishment were AMAZING. I also traveled to Barcelona, Spain the French Riviera (Cannes and Nice), Prague in the Czech Republic, Corfu and Athens Greece. Within Italy, I traveled to Vatican City, Carnivale in Venice, Florence, Caprii, Sorrento, Pompei, Assissi and sampled wine in Tuscany.

Sky Diving over the Swiss Alps