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Doctoral student receives study abroad award from Dr Pepper

  |   Kathryn Kao   |   Permalink   |   Kudos,   Spotlight,   Students and Faculty

Shara Cherniak, a third-year doctoral student in the department of educational theory and practice, was one of 28 students from a Southeastern Conference (SEC) university to receive the 2016 Dr Pepper Education Abroad Award.

Last year, Dr Pepper allocated $100,000 to the SEC to provide study abroad opportunities for students who excel in the classroom, demonstrate financial need and represent non-traditional study abroad participants. With this award, Cherniak will participate in a faculty-led program in Ghana during the 2016-17 academic year.

"I am very appreciative to Dr Pepper for the possibility to study abroad in Ghana," said Cherniak. "As a Ph.D. student in early childhood education, I see this experience as more than just an excellent opportunity; I see it as imperative to my own development as a teacher educator and to my ability to instruct students."

In Ghana, Cherniak hopes to increase her knowledge of African history, culture and education, as well as the interconnectedness between time, people and geographical location. Additionally, she will use this experience to help future students better understand the historical and present-day impact of Africa on the U.S.

"With this knowledge, I will be a more responsible person and equipped to do critical work at all levels of education to help dismantle the racist binary construction of blackness and whiteness," said Cherniak. "A first-hand experience learning in Ghana will help strengthen my own ongoing journey as a teacher educator committed to bettering the African and African American educational experience."

Cherniak is a teaching assistant at the University of Georgia. In 2007, she co-planned and co-taught English classes for students ages 3 to 11 in Malaga, Spain before serving as a second grade dual-language teacher at Avon Elementary School in Colorado.

In 2010, she co-founded and directed a preschool of 32 students in the Dominican Republic to help promote English fluency in education. After incorporating the school into a non-profit organization, Cherniak was able to help students explore science, writing, reading and math according to standards in the U.S.

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