Pitt’s Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership Honored by Institute of International Education

Issue Date: 
February 4, 2013

The University of Pittsburgh has been honored for its Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership by the Institute of International Education. The program has received an honorable mention in the study-abroad category of the institute’s Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education. 

“I am delighted that the Vira Heinz Program is receiving this honor,” said Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia E. Beeson. “The program is shaping an annual cohort of young women whose decisions and actions as future leaders will have a far-reaching impact locally and, potentially, globally.” 

The Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership, established in 2007, combines a study-abroad experience, leadership-development retreats, and community-service activities. Three women each from 15 institutions across Pennsylvania are admitted annually into the program, which is supported by the Heinz Endowments and administered by Pitt’s University Center for International Studies and Office of Study Abroad.

Participants receive scholarship support to defray the costs of studying abroad. The program targets a diverse mix of sophomore and junior women who haven’t yet traveled abroad and gives preference to women from underrepresented groups and those with financial need. 

“Through mentoring, retreat activities, a community engagement project, and my international experience in Cape Town, doors were opened to me that I never dreamed possible,” said Pitt senior Laura Buccigrossi, a member of the 2012 program cohort who studied in Cape Town, South Africa. “I have begun to develop a more global perspective, and I plan to carry what I’ve learned in this program with me in all of my future endeavors, including further world travels.”

“As an African-American woman who had never before been out of the country, my international experience was eye-opening and taught me the importance of giving back,” added Pitt senior Brie Latimore, a member of the 2012 program cohort who studied in Costa Rica. “Both retreats helped me to expand my global perspective and hone my leadership skills, which will invariably help me in the future. This opportunity is certainly more than just a scholarship.”

The Pitt program’s honorable mention will be awarded on March 22 at the Institute of International Education’s Best Practices conference in New York City.  

The Institute of International Education created its Andrew Heiskell Awards to promote and honor outstanding initiatives in international higher education being conducted by member universities. The awards are named after the late Andrew Heiskell—former chair and CEO of Time Inc. and founder of People magazine—a renowned international and cultural philanthropist and dedicated supporter of international education.