Alyssa Dachowicz swam in the Red Sea, along with some of her classmates, while studying abroad in Israel.
Major in Political Science
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When Alyssa Dachowicz chose Indiana University of Pennsylvania, halfway across the state from her home in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, she was impressed with the Cook Honors College, the ROTC program here, and the beautiful campus.
“The driving factor for my decision to apply to IUP was the Honors College. I really, really love the Honors College, and I hadn't seen anything like it,” said Dachowicz, who received a four-year scholarship from the Cook Honors College and a one-year Sutton Scholarship from IUP.
She also received a national scholarship from the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) and researched colleges to compare the strength of their ROTC programs.
ROTC at IUP, which has been ranked eighth nationally, rose to the top of her list.
“Our ROTC program does a really great job of developing effective leaders, which is one reason why I think it is ranked so high,” she said. “Our program works very hard on developing you as an individual and developing you as a leader.”
Dachowicz's leadership skills have served her well in her role as president of IUP Pride Alliance, a position she held last year as a sophomore and again this year as a junior.
IUP Pride Alliance, a student organization that advocates for students of various sexual orientations and gender identities, has grown during the last few years.
“Pride Alliance became like a family,” she said. “For me personally, Pride Alliance has been a huge part of my college career. It helped me feel welcomed and accepted and find my footing when I came to school, and it's given me some great opportunities. I never thought I'd be at the end of my freshman year and be elected president of a student organization.”
About a year ago, IUP created the area of LGBTQIA Advocacy, which works with other IUP offices to create a welcoming and supportive campus climate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and asexual individuals and their allies.
“I'm glad I was here to see that office being created,” she said.
Dachowicz, a Political Science/Pre-law major with a minor in Women's and Gender Studies, learned about an opportunity to study abroad in Israel through a posting she received as a student in the Cook Honors College.
She applied and got the chance to spend about four weeks last summer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Rothberg International School.
There, she explored her major by taking classes on both the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the politics of the region with students of varying religious and ethnic backgrounds from Brazil, Germany, Japan, Canada, Venezuela, and other countries.
With some of her international classmates, she visited Bethlehem and the ancient city of Petra, in Jordan. They went scuba diving in the Red Sea and visited Palestine.
“We took a bus into Ramallah, in Palestine, and saw a sign for a refugee camp. We just walked into the camp,” she said. “We told a man by a coffee shop inside the camp that we were students from several countries, and he took us to see the children's center.”
Dachowicz said she could not have afforded to study abroad without the help from the Cook Honors College Achievement Fund.
“Everything about (those weeks) was mind-blowing and eye opening,” she said. “To be in Israel and be completely surrounded by that is a completely different perspective. It was a really intense month.”