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VSU Receives Caterpillar Foundation Grant for Students to Study in China

Published date: November 13, 2012

Virginia State University received a $64,000 grant from the Caterpillar Foundation that enables students to study abroad in China.  The grant is part of a $1 million pledge by the Caterpillar Foundation in support of the U.S. Department of State’s “100,000 Strong Initiative” to increase the number of American college students studying abroad in China. Previous funding from the Caterpillar Foundation led to the creation of the VSU Caterpillar Foundation Global Citizens program under which nine VSU students in the Reginald F. Lewis School of Business and the School of Science, Engineering and Technology studied Mandarin language and completed coursework in international business and Chinese cultural studies in Shanghai.  

This year's VSU Caterpillar Global Citizens will spend a semester at Beijing Normal University starting in January 2013. They are: Shakira Taylor, a junior Business Management major; DeLydia Lawrence, a junior Accounting major; Alana Dawson, a junior Business Marketing major; and Deshanay Bigelow, a junior Industrial Logistics Technology major.  The funding will cover students’ round-trip airfare to China, tuition and program fees, housing and meals, and textbooks. "The Caterpillar Foundation is proud to support U.S. college students studying abroad in China through our $1 million pledge to the 100,000 Strong Initiative. It is our hope that this experience will give students some valuable insights on the global economy, China's importance on the world stage, and an unforgettable cultural experience. U.S. companies, including Caterpillar, have been rapidly expanding operations in China, and students with a firsthand knowledge of the country and culture will have a strategic advantage in any field they choose to enter upon graduation," said Michele Sullivan, Caterpillar Foundation Vice President.   

Dr. Mirta Martin, Dean of the Reginald Lewis School of Business, acknowledged that this opportunity will “open the doors to the world for our students.”  Last year, study abroad participation at VSU tripled, and Dr. Sample, Director of International Education, credits the increase to the efforts of students who choose to internationalize their academic experience by studying abroad and upon return convincing their classmates to do the same.  “An important benefit of this partnership with the Caterpillar Foundation is that students can expand their understanding of China well beyond media sound bites and learn firsthand China's significance as a major global player,” added Dr. Sample.  

Caterpillar supports the philanthropic efforts of the Caterpillar Foundation.  Founded in 1952, the Caterpillar Foundation has contributed more than $500 million to help make sustainable progress possible around the world by providing program support in the areas of environmental sustainability, access to education and basic human needs.  To learn more about the global impact of the Caterpillar Foundation, please visit

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