Scholarships Allow Access to Undergraduate Opportunities

Claire Bronchuk at Notre Dame, Paris.
Friday, January 7, 2011

“UMass wasn’t my first choice when I began the college application process,” Claire Bronchuk ’12 (political science/business management) admits. “But, after weighing all of my options, UMass was the best fit, especially because several private schools I was considering didn’t offer adequate financial aid. In the end, I chose UMass for its diverse range of academic departments, as well as the extracurricular activities, including Marching Band.

Bronchuk hasn’t been disappointed. “I entered as a business major, intent on focusing on international business, but soon my interests expanded.” Spring of freshman year she was accepted into Anthro 397H, Grassroots Community Development (GCD). “I’d never been exposed to community development work in such an effective way,” Bronchuk says. “The course readings, cases studies, projects, and alternative spring break component led me to political science.”

To clarify, Bronchuk became fascinated with people-to-people relations as well as alternative business, fair-trade, and social change. The GCD experience encouraged her to study similar topics and areas of thought not found in the business curriculum. Political science offered a different form of critical assessment, an international focus, and the chance to acquire more than business acumen. “Learning about and understanding international issues is one of my passions,” says Bronchuk. “As the world becomes more interconnected, people from different countries, ethnicities, classes, and beliefs must increasingly collaborate and cooperate to solve global problems. Because of the wide range of political science courses available, I am focusing on international politics both through the major and an International Relations Certificate. Adding this global emphasis to my studies is a great complement to my business major.”

The influence of culture on motivational factors and organizational behavior is another of Bronchuk’s passions. She knew an academic year abroad would be a key learning tool. To help fund such an opportunity, Bronchuk, who works diligently to cover standard school fees and costs, sought many scholarships and grants. She is now in Paris, thanks to the support of several, including two from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences: the Ansin Study Abroad Fellowship and the Class of 1945 Merit Scholarship.

“Having help from alumni and other supporters has allowed me to embark on an academic journey of Europe that I never thought would be possible,” says Bronchuk. “So often I’ve heard of interesting opportunities, but disregarded them because I couldn’t afford to participate. These scholarships have had an enormous impact on my access to this higher education opportunity.”

At Dauphine, part of the University of Paris, Bronchuk is exposed to a huge international population, which in itself is a unique learning experience. A French minor, she also has been improving her French speaking and writing abilities. “I love living in an urban setting with historical and modern day importance,” Bronchuk says. “Between classes I walk through the courtyards of the Louvre or tour a free museum. I’ve also witnessed civil strikes and union protests, government restructuring and changes to the French secular system. Seeing these social movements firsthand has highlighted differences between French and American societies, and I’ve enjoyed analyzing those differences. I see this experience as the basis for my senior Honors Capstone. Plus, living independently in a foreign country has strengthened my self-confidence. I now feel like I could travel and study anywhere in the world.”

Stateside, Bronchuk hails the expansive opportunities that UMass has offered. “I’ve had brilliant professors with whom I stay in touch. One teaches a weeklong fall course here in Paris, and we met for a conversation about French culture and management practices. Through GCD, I joined the administration of UACT (University Alliance for Community Transformation) as the organizational specialist. With another former GCD student, I shared office responsibilities and helped run the program for a new set of students and facilitators. It was great giving back to a program that was so important to me.”

Bronchuk also spent a semester on the sales staff for the Minuteman Marching Band, in which she has played first rank clarinet for two seasons so far. “With two other students I handled the promotion, sales, ordering, and distribution of spirit wear among band members and fans.” She also managed the sales booth at football games, maintained the sales office, has been involved in VOX, performed in the Vagina Monologues, and worked with the Orchard Hill Area Government. Last summer Bronchuk was a full-time intern at Staples, Inc., headquartered in Framingham. “This allowed me to experience business office culture firsthand and to learn about supply chain and logistics at an international, expanding company,” she says.

“UMass changed me and continues to challenge me,” Bronchuk says. “I think the institution is extremely underrepresented, and many potential students may overlook the advantages it offers. I tell them to come, and remind them to take command of their education by seeking out the large number of academic co-curricular opportunities.”

With a year and a half to go before graduation, Bronchuk is thinking about the future. After graduate school in either international business or international relations, she’d like to work for an international NGO or mediate between international businesses. “I expect to continue experiencing new cultures and remain in a constant state of change and personal evolution,” she says. “I realize that my ambitions will require a lot of hard work, but I’m excited to meet new challenges and people along the way.”