Plum CCAC Boyce student to travel, study abroad
A CCAC Boyce student from Plum has received a scholarship to study in Australia.
Ashley Szymkowiak, 23, was given $1,000 and selected to participate in Phi Theta Kappa’s International Scholar Laureate Program. She will participate as a student scholar in the Delegation on Medicine and Science study abroad program in Sydney and Melbourne from May 19-26.
Szymkowiak is on track to graduate in May with an associate’s degree in surgical technology. She said she will start a full-time job as a surgical tech at Westmoreland Hospital in June and hopes to continue her education to pursue a career as a physician assistant.
She serves as vice president of leadership as a member of Phi Theta Kappa’s Sigma Omicron Chapter at CCAC Boyce.
Szymkowiak said she did not apply for the program. One day, she said, she got an email and thought it might be spam.
“At first I didn’t really believe it was real or that anything was happening,” she said, adding a CCAC Boyce advisor had to confirm to her it was a real opportunity. She then applied for a financial scholarship and received it.
Szymkowiak said she has never been to Australia, but has traveled to Nicaragua on a mission trip and to Mexico on a family vacation.
“With layovers and everything, it’s going to be a 36-hour trip,” she said.
She is looking forward to meeting the 89 others from around the globe also participating in the program.
“I’m excited to go and meet new people. And hopefully I learn a lot about the medical field,” Szymkowiak said.
As part of the international program, Szymkowiak will get acquainted with Sydney and Melbourne’s medical environment by attending academic sessions on Aboriginal bush medicine, natural medicines and treatments and tropical diseases. The program will offer her access to hospitals, clinics and universities.
Students are chosen for the program based on academic achievement, leadership accomplishment, participation in CCAC extracurricular and volunteer activities and engagement with Phi Theta Kappa programs.
“Ashley is an exceptional student leader, and she has been instrumental in the success of our chapter’s community service projects, such as the Special Santa holiday gift drive benefiting children in the care of the Pauline Auberle Foundation,” said Linda Neubauer, student development specialist at CCAC Boyce.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .