Working, Studying, and Growing Abroad

September 21, 2022 by Sara Falligant

New grant for international engagement allows students to create their own study abroad experience

More than a month after returning to Baltimore from a summer-long internship in Valencia, Spain, Johns Hopkins senior Bailey Cheetham regularly hears from her home-stay mother.

Hopkins senior women's lacrosse player Bailey Cheetham poses with her Spanish home-stay mother
Senior women’s lacrosse player Bailey Cheetham, left, regularly texts her Spanish home-stay mother.

“Mi madre still texts me,” says Cheetham, who is majoring in international studies with a focus in global medicine. “She texts me often, and I love it. The people that you meet abroad are a very special part of the experience.”

Cheetham always wanted to study internationally. But as a women’s lacrosse player with commitments throughout the school year, she wasn’t able to travel at the same time as many of her peers. Summer worked for her student-athlete schedule, and she secured an internship at a Spanish ophthalmology private practice. She just had to figure out how to finance it.

The Lake Oswego, Oregon, native was researching Hopkins funding opportunities when she discovered a new grant established by Katharine Phares, A&S ’91, a two-sport athlete who had been in Cheetham’s situation 30 years earlier.

“My parents always say, ‘If you never ask, the answer is always no,’” Cheetham says. “I was delighted to hear that I was going to be the recipient of it and the very first recipient, too, which was even more exciting.”

Hopkins alum Katharine Phares with senior women's lacrosse player Bailey Cheetham
Cheetham, left, met donor and former Hopkins women’s lacrosse and field hockey player Katharine Phares, A&S ’91, last spring.

The Phares Family Grant for International Engagement is a $7,000 award administered by the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activity. The grant funds rising juniors and seniors who are unable to study abroad during the academic year and who plan to travel abroad for an independent research study that will enhance their overall undergraduate experience.  Phares took advantage of a similar opportunity when she was a student and women’s lacrosse and field hockey player at Hopkins.

“Sports dominated my time, and that is why I had to spend the summers doing the travel and the work that I wanted to do,” Phares says.

An art history major, Phares traveled across Europe following in the footsteps of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh on the 100th anniversary of his death. She planned, mapped, and budgeted the trip using funds from the Rose Travelling Fellowship, a grant established by Richard Rose, A&S ’53, which inspired her own gift.

“I thought, ‘Well, why can I not do this same idea?’” Phares says. “I personally got so much out of it, and I knew I could make an impact elsewhere for other people.”

Rose, now a political scientist and professor at the University of Strathclyde Glasgow, created the fellowship in the mid-1980s to enable students to gain educational experiences while traveling Europe.

Hopkins senior women's lacrosse player Bailey Cheetham poses with two friends outside of Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral
Cheetham, center, visited Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia with friends.

Upon graduating from Hopkins after just two years of study, Rose embarked on his own post-World War II European educational adventure, even celebrating his 21st birthday at “the only concert hall in Munich with a roof.”

“I had enormously benefited at the age of 20, in what would’ve been my junior year, from traveling around Europe and pursuing a project, which was to see cathedrals,” Rose remembers. “I wasn’t trying to change students’ lives with the fellowship; I was trying to broaden their options at a critical point. I’m glad that I planted the seed and am able to see its spring.”

Phares says her own time abroad was a highlight of her undergraduate experience and helped her resume stand out in her early career. Showcasing the initiative to plan a trip to Europe and securing a grant, she adds, will offer Cheetham even more opportunities as she starts her career.

“I feel the wanderlust is so important for young adults,” Phares says. “Thread the needle and figure out what the opportunities are, because they’re out there. It’ll be an unforgettable experience while forwarding your aspirations at the same time. And you meet so many people.”

Cheetham agrees. She made life-changing relationships during her summer abroad, and the experience opened her to new career opportunities. She spent nine-hour days working with patients and observing doctors in the operating room, and a conversation with a medical device representative exposed her to an appealing career path.

Hopkins senior women's lacrosse player Bailey Cheetham and a friend against a blue sky in Segovia, Spain
Cheetham, left, pictured here in Segovia, traveled throughout Spain during her summer abroad.

“Aside from the medical aspect of my internship, this experience has shown me the great parts in the business side of medicine. My medical internship in Valencia allowed me to combine my interests in international studies and the medical industry into one, and it is definitely what I want to pursue in my future professional career,” Cheetham says.

In addition to the relationships Cheetham built in Spain, she’s connected with Phares. The two met during a lacrosse game last spring and kept in touch during Cheetham’s time in Spain. Phares even passed along some expert art recommendations, which encouraged Cheetham to visit Madrid’s Thyssen Bornemisza Museum in addition to the famed Prado, among others.

Cheetham says she’ll never be able to put her gratitude for the grant and the opportunities it offered her into words.

“The experience that she was able to give me completely changed my life,” Cheetham says. “To be able to work and learn in a medical facility, speaking Spanish 24/7 and living in a home stay and experiencing the Valencian culture, it wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Mrs. Phares. I am very grateful for her, her grant and the school. I won’t ever be able to say ‘Thank you’ enough.”

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Topics: Students, Blue Jays Unlimited (Athletics), Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Support Scholars, Undergraduate Student Experience