A Boost to Study Abroad
Mary Ortman ‘16 is a world traveler. She can speak two languages and is certified to teach both. In 2018, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to teach in Croatia and now has her sights set on changing the lives of children both in northern Idaho and abroad.
Her accomplishments, she said, are due in part to the generosity of David ‘70 and M.A. ‘71 Poe and their scholarship, the David A. and Mary Alice Poe Study Abroad Scholarship.
Studying Spanish and secondary education at the University of Idaho, Ortman had a passion to teach the Spanish language. She searched for opportunities to travel to a Spanish-speaking country to learn more.
A semester-long trip to San Sebastián, Spain, soon opened up through University Studies Abroad Consortium, a U of I study abroad partner. She knew travel would enhance her college experience and future career, but she couldn’t afford the plane ticket.
“The main consideration was money,” Ortman said. “Traveling abroad was going to be a financial sacrifice, instead of something I could enjoy.”
Under the direction of the university’s Education Abroad office, Ortman was encouraged to apply for the Poe scholarship. She filled out the forms and wrote her essays but felt unsure she would be awarded.
“Being selected gave me confidence,” Ortman said. “The whole process taught me it was OK to ask for help and trust in others. As humans, we all speak the same language of generosity.”
For the Poes, the language of generosity came fluently.
“We are lucky to have the finances to be able to give back and see its positive effects,” M.A. said. “We are so grateful to help students receive opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have.”
The Poes have been heavily involved in the university since graduating, participating in the U of I Foundation and helping to create the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences advisory board.
Their kindness changed my worldview. Because of their support, I have learned that you can’t grow, you can't discover yourself without the help of others. Mary Ortman '16
As students, David and M.A. built strong, lifelong friendships and studied subjects outside of their major, including music and the arts. To this day, the couple support students who explore new interests and are excited to assist students like Ortman in their own exploration.
“We believe the university is not just the classroom,” David said. “Academic excellence is created when students’ learning environments include experiences like bonding through Greek life, extracurriculars and studying abroad. The broader your education, the more well-rounded a person you have the opportunity to become.”
Because of Ortman’s educational experience, she has discovered other ways to help students learn and thrive through her own efforts.
Now pursuing a career in library sciences, Ortman has returned to Moscow to become a library assistant at Moscow High School and hopes to donate to the university in honor of the Poes.
“I hope all donors, especially the Poes, know how great of an impact they have on my life and others,” Ortman said. “Their kindness changed my worldview. Because of their support, I have learned that you can’t grow, you can’t discover yourself without the help of others.”
Article by Rosemary Anderson '17
Published in the fall 2019 issue of Here We Have Idaho.