As the winner of the James and Ivel Caldwell Scholarship at the University of South Alabama, Rachel Kleinpeter spent the summer in Germany, polishing her language and cultural skills at the prestigious Goethe Institute in Frankfurt.
Over the eight week program, Kleinpeter improved her knowledge of German, which had been developed through high school and college courses and a high school exchange program.
“I’d like to thank the Caldwell family for giving the money to students in foreign languages at the University,” she said. “It was really helpful because the Goethe Institute is one of the most expensive language schools in the country.”
She says her language skills improved so dramatically because she used German daily in conversation, watched German television and learned words in their context. In addition to her conversational skills, she also earned a certificate of proficiency in writing.
Since 1994, the James and Ivel Caldwell Scholarship has helped 14 USA students gain international training. The $70,000 endowment by the family and friends of Dr. and Mrs. Caldwell helps students in the College of Arts & Sciences travel and study abroad.
The late Dr. Caldwell was a well-known educator in Alabama and several foreign countries, such as Iraq, Jordan and Indonesia. During USA’s formative years, Dr. Caldwell served as vice president for development and contracts. He also wrote, “Magic -- No! Miracle – Yes! The Founding and Early Development of The University of South Alabama.”
Jim Caldwell, a son of the late Dr. Caldwell, said his father had a vision for USA and Mobile’s international presence because of its strategic location on the Gulf of Mexico.
“This University should serve its interests by educating people in international politics and culture,” Mr. Caldwell said.
After seeing scholarship winners receive the award, Mr. Caldwell said his late father was incredibly pleased and hopeful for their future success.
“It was something that was a dream fulfilled for him,” Mr. Caldwell said.
Dr. Stephen Morris, professor of political science and chair of the USA Faculty Senate, said the Caldwell Scholarship removes the financial hurdle that often prevents USA students from studying abroad.
“Nothing compares to a true international experience,” said Dr. Morris, who participated in a life-changing study abroad program in 1981. “It provides a real life laboratory that brings together language, culture, politics and society. The classroom is merely a reflection of and an abstraction of reality, whereas a program abroad gives the students a true taste of that reality.”
The Caldwell scholarship is open to Arts & Sciences students with a minimum GPA of 3.0 overall and 3.0 in foreign language with at least one year of language training prior to the study abroad. Preference is given to juniors and seniors with little or no foreign experience. Students must use the award to participate in an established study abroad program and prepare a final report for the Caldwell Board upon their return.
Kleinpeter will graduate next spring with a degree in Foreign Languages and Literature with a double concentration in German and Russian. She plans to spend next summer in Russia, working on her language skills.
“People really need to look past the United States,” she said. “That was one of the benefits of being able to take the Caldwell Scholarship.”
A graduate of Daphne High School, Kleinpeter plans to join the Air Force, as part of her ROTC commitment, when she graduates. She plans to make a career in government, with her interests focusing on counter intelligence, fraud and felony criminal investigations.
The 21-year-old is the daughter of George and Wanda Kleinpeter.
University of South Alabama College of Arts & Sciences
As the largest college in the University, the College of Arts and Sciences includes 19 departments and several interdisciplinary programs offering 25 majors, 33 minors and one certificate program.
The college also provides the core liberal arts education for all University students, introducing them to a broad spectrum of knowledge in each of four main areas: the humanities, social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences, and fine and performing arts.
The faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences are actively engaged in research, which enables them to integrate recent advances in knowledge into the classroom. They contribute to the growth of knowledge through their research, publications and creative achievements, both in their professions and in the community.
The College of Arts and Sciences currently enrolls 3,562 students. Now in its 41st year of service, USA has more than 53,000 alumni.