Three Scholarship Recipients Will Study Abroad

May 11, 2017

The Cedar Falls Community Foundation has announced that three scholarships have been awarded from the Robert Eller Study Abroad Endowment for Fall 2017 study abroad.

The Robert Eller Study Abroad Endowment was established by emeritus UNI Education Media Specialist Robert Eller to foster the educational, professional, and personal growth of undergraduate students at the University of Northern Iowa by providing funds to support study outside the United States for students whose previous travel and study experiences abroad have been limited.  Applications are accepted by the Study Abroad Center and reviewed by a committee of University of Northern Iowa Emeritus Association members and Cedar Falls Community Foundation staff.

Applications for the scholarship are accepted through the University of Northern Iowa Study Abroad Office.  Applicants are interviewed by a committee of five emeritus University of Northern Iowa faculty, David Duncan, chair.  The Robert Eller Study Abroad Scholarship Committee members are: Ronald Bro, Ed Amund, Joan Duea, and Diane Curtis.

Three students will each receive a $2,500 scholarship for study abroad during the Fall 2017 semester.

Christopher Merck is a Math Education Major at UNI, originally from Marion, Iowa.  He will be the first UNI student to study at the University of Jyvaskyla Exchange in Finland.  He will study abroad August through December 2017, returning to UNI for classes and graduation in December 2019.  Christopher is interested in learning about Finland’s educational system and gaining a new perspective on the educational process.  Christopher said, “Studying in this environment will help me to gain a new perspective on education.  It is a very diverse campus, with students from over 100 different nations.  It will be of great value to me to experience and learn other people’s culture.  This is especially important in education, when American classrooms are growing more diverse each year, and with the emergence of having teachers be trained in culturally relevant pedagogy. I will take this opportunity study this system and compare it to the United States model.”

Claire Guderjahn is a Psychology Major at UNI, originally from Urbandale, Iowa.  She will be studying at the University of Stirling in Scotland September through December 2017, returning to UNI for the remainder of her classes and graduating in May 2019.  Claire is an outgoing, enthusiastic student, active in her classes and in service leadership both at UNI and in community organizations.  As a Psychology major, Claire is interested in exploring the feeling of being culturally uncomfortable – an outsider – in another country.  She feels being in a new environment will help her better understand how to create welcoming, comfortable environments in the future.

Cecelia Hawbaker is a Communication Studies major at UNI, a native of Cedar Falls.  She will study at the University of Chichester, England, September through December 2017.  Cece will return to UNI for the remainder of her classes and graduate May 2019.  Cecelia was valedictorian of her high school class and continues a strong academic record with a 3.92 GPA at UNI.  Cecelia noted that study abroad will be a step forward in personal growth as well as academic.  She said “I have stayed close to home by choosing a university in my hometown, and have attended smaller schools where I knew everyone.  By attending school abroad, I will gain independence.  I will have the opportunity to forge my own way, meet a variety of diverse people, and experience a different culture.  I can only image everything I will learn about myself by stepping outside my comfort zone.”

Cynthia Sweet, Executive Director of the Cedar Falls Community Foundation, noted, “None of these students has traveled abroad previously, an important element in Mr. Eller’s decision to establish the Study Abroad Scholarship.  He wanted to give Iowa students the opportunity to travel and study abroad for all the benefits that brings to personal growth and independence.  The Foundation is honored to help fulfill Mr. Eller’s legacy and assist these students with a study abroad experience.  Upon their return, the students will present to the UNI Emeritus Association about their study abroad experience.”

Applications for the Robert Eller Study Abroad Scholarship are available by contacting the Study Abroad office at the University of Northern Iowa.  The next round of applications will be accepted in October 2017.

The Cedar Falls Community Foundation is a nationally accredited community foundation, one of only 17 accredited community foundations in Iowa.  The Cedar Falls Community Foundation accepts and manages estate gifts and donations to fulfill donor wishes, assisting donors to achieve their charitable legacy.

The Cedar Falls Community Foundation’s mission to use the resources entrusted to its stewardship to support projects that enhance the community’s quality of life through cultural, scholarly, recreational, literary and artistic endeavors

For more information about the Cedar Falls Community Foundation, please visit  or contact 319.243.9170 or