Alma College changes Venture program

ALIVIA GILES
STAFF WRITER

Alma College recently updated their Venture Program to provide additional funding and simplify the application process. The program, which was created in 2013, provides funding for travel and other applied learning opportunities.

This change serves as an expansion of other successful travel opportunities such as the Posey Global Fellowship and Gazmararian Scholarship. Students will now be able to apply for two types of Venture experiences, including the “Think Critically” Junior Year Applied Experience Venture award and an additional opportunity through the college’s “Serve Generously, Lead Purposefully, Live Responsibly” Venture awards.

Every year, Alma provides applied learning opportunities for about 200 to 300 students. Most of these students opt for a spring term travel course, while others study abroad for Alma academic credit during the regular school year. Many students choose to travel for service, research or internship programs either in the United States or abroad through Posey Global or Alternative Breaks.

Carla Jensen has served as Director of Career and Personal Development at Alma College for the past seven years. In addition to working with international college students, Jensen oversees the administration of the Alma Venture Program and Off-Campus Study (study abroad and academic
internship programs).

Jensen feels that these adjustments will be very
beneficial to Alma students. Students will now be able to apply for multiple awards without reducing the maximum Venture award they are eligible for. There will also only be one application form, and deadline for “Serve Generously, Lead Purposefully, Live Responsibly” awards.

“I hope that these funds will encourage students to engage with the world in ways they might otherwise have been able to do – to have a positive impact and also to use these experiences to explore the type of person they want to be and the shape of their life’s work.”

Director of Career and Personal Development, Carla Jensen

Ellen Laurenz (‘22) used her Alma Venture Grant in Jun. 2019 to travel to Sydney, Australia, where she volunteered at St. Lucy’s School, a Catholic school for children with disabilities. Through the Posey Global program, Laurenz was also able to travel to Sierra Leone, Africa for eight weeks, working in a local hospital.

“[These opportunities] meant a lot to me, and I’m thankful to attend a school that truly cares about their students. The staff at Alma College went above and beyond to help see my visions come to life,” said Laurenz.

Laurenz has always loved traveling, and she was drawn to Alma for this reason. “I found it very fascinating that Alma offered such a variety of scholarship opportunities to support travel experiences,” said Laurenz.

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, it is challenging to predict what this year might look like for travel experiences. International travel is on hold, while domestic off-campus studies must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the school’s Travel Risk Assessment Committee.

“We are trying to take things one day at a time and assess plans on a case by case basis,” Jensen said.

Jensen feels that every student should take advantage of the opportunities the Alma Venture Program provides. “I would encourage [students] to make an off-campus experience part of their academic plan for their time at Alma College,” said Jensen. “You have a lot of support to make your dreams a reality.”

According to Jensen, planning for Venture Program experiences usually begins at least a year in advance. Although students will not be able to travel very far this semester, it is not too soon to plan for future off-campus adventures.

To find more information on Alma’s Venture Program or to set up an appointment with Carla Jensen or another member of the Career and Personal Development team, students are encouraged to log into their
Handshake account (alma.joinhandshake.com).

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