Award encourages students to ‘Bridge’ out

Most everyone has crossed a “first bridge” of sorts. Whether having experienced a racial injustice, acclimated to a culture shock or struggled with poverty, these events have molded life experiences and prepared individuals for a “second bridge.”

Funded by an anonymous donor, UAA’s Center for Community Learning & Engagement (CCEL) is now accepting applications for the first ever Second Bridge Scholarship Award. This award allocates $1,000 to a motivated student looking to stretch the boundaries of traditional education by immersing themselves in a service-oriented project.

“The name of the award is a metaphor for something that is a little bit adventurous, a little out of the mainstream,” said the donor. “Crossing the first bridge is going somewhere that is a little challenging and out of your comfort zone, and crossing the second is for students to take a little risk and do something they normally wouldn’t do.”

The Second Bridge Scholarship was created as an attempt to encourage divergent thinking and to prepare students for a future world that will be very different from today. The donor encourages students to think about sustainability, alternative forms of education, charitable service or even mission ideas when formulating their proposal.

“I just want to see UAA students doing really cool, interesting things that are out of the box. Out of the box is very important to me,” said the donor. “Students who are willing to take risks like this are also likely to become leaders in society.”

Both domestic and international project ideas are applicable and may be executed in conjunction with other projects or travel.

For example, a UAA student studying women’s issues may utilize the award while traveling abroad and volunteer in a foreign women’s shelter, or a student could use the award to travel to rural Alaska to improve smaller communities. The award could also supplement a trip to Iceland to study eco-villages, or contribute to expanding the arts into underprivileged communities.

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A defining characteristic of this award is its allowance for creativity – learning in an environment that is intriguing or important to you. It provides some financial incentive for undergraduates in any degree-seeking program to convert classroom lessons into more meaningful real-world experiences. Applicants should be motivated to work out of their comfort zones.

“Our world faces some grave challenges and requires people willing to take some risks,” said the donor. “Many of the rewards set up through the University reward students excelling scholastically… or doing undergraduate research, doing ‘what they are supposed to do.’ I hope this scholarship awards students who are not doing what they traditionally are supposed to do, but things that ultimately will help.”

To apply for the Second Bridge Scholarship Award, students must submit their proposal along with a faculty letter of support by Nov. 23 to [email protected]. Additional information is available at