Alumna establishes study abroad scholarship at Pitt-Bradford

BRADFORD, Pa. — It’s been more than 14 years since Magnolia Hernandez graduated from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, but she hasn’t forgotten her alma mater.

Hernandez has made a gift of $5,500, most of which will be matched by the Pitt-Bradford Alumni Association Alumni Challenge, to endow the Panther Traveler Study Abroad Fund that will help Pitt-Bradford students study abroad.

Hernandez herself came to Pitt-Bradford in 1996 from the Dominican Republic, where she lived at the time, but it was a trip on the floating university Semester at Sea that gave her a passion for travel.

A writing major at Pitt-Bradford, Hernandez became interested in international relations following her round-the-world trip. She would go on to earn a master’s degree in international relations.

Hernandez said it wasn’t just travel abroad that made an impact on her life at Pitt-Bradford; it was also a caring faculty and staff.

As a student worker for administrative assistant Sharie Radzavich in the Division of Communication and the Arts, she found a role model and second mother.

“Sharie made a world of difference,” Hernandez said. “She just took me under her wing. That first year in Bradford, I got really sick during Thanksgiving, and she and Dr. (Carys) Evans-Corrales checked in on me. They were just amazing.”

Hernandez said that the American college experience was far different from what she had grown up expecting in the Dominican Republic, where college strictly refers to academics.

“Dr. (Michael) Stuckart took a group of us sailing on his boat on the Niagara River, and I remember thinking, ‘This is college?’ I had no idea.”

She said Dr. Vince Kohler, who taught American studies, prodded her into applying to graduate school, something she said she would not have gone on to without his encouragement.

Hernandez also worked as a resident assistant, which would play a part in her deciding to remain in higher education. After working for eight years in study abroad at Miami Dade College and Florida International University, today she works in the university graduate school at Florida International University, which is also located in Miami.

“I have wanted to create this scholarship forever. The undergraduate experience is so important, and, to me, study abroad shaped my vision of the world and who I was. When I took the trip that I did, I could not have done it without the help that I received,” she said. When she saw that the alumni challenge would match gifts up to $5,000, she knew the time was right for her gift.

She said she chose to make the gift to students at Pitt-Bradford because of what those in the university had done for her.

“I love Pitt-Bradford,” she said. “I feel that the same care that was fostered back then still exists. I love my alma mater.”

For more information on Hernadez’s scholarship or to make a contribution, contact Jill Ballard, executive director of institutional advancement, at<> or (814)362-5091.

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