Meet Chatham’s Study Abroad Ambassadors for 2023-2024. These students are study abroad returnees who are available to answer questions and share their experience with interested students!

Madison Shenigo (she/her)

Program: Greece, Summer 2023

Major: BSN

Graduation Year: 2024

Hi, my name is Madison and I go by she/her pronouns. During my time abroad I studied in Greece. In April, I graduated from Shadyside School of Nursing through the Pathways to Nursing Program that Chatham offers. In April 2024, I will be graduating from Chatham with BSN.

Studying abroad is one of my favorite memories from college. It was incredible getting to meet people from different backgrounds and growing together as we experienced such a beautiful country.

Students can reach out to Madison via email at:


Meet Chatham’s Study Abroad Ambassadors for 2023-2024. These students are study abroad returnees who are available to answer questions and share their experience with interested students!

Alyssa Bruce (she/her)

Program: Germany, Spring 2023

Major: International Studies

Graduation Year: 2024

Studying abroad in Berlin gave me memories, knowledge, friends, and a global perspective that I will never forget.

Students can reach out to Alyssa via email at:


Meet Chatham’s Study Abroad Ambassadors for 2023-2024. These students are study abroad returnees who are available to answer questions and share their experience with interested students!

Jenna Baljuanas (she/her)

Program: Greece, Summer 2023

Major: Environmental Science

Graduation Year: December 2023

My time abroad in Greece turned my dream of travel into reality (with the plus of celebrating my birthday on a pink beach!). Having no prior experience traveling to a different country, I not only gained more confidence in travel but also stronger relation to both people and places. About a month after this trip, I traveled internationally again, spending five weeks in Costa Rica for an internship. With already experiencing more comfort traveling and living abroad, I developed an even deeper understanding of myself, others, my career plans, and the rest of the world.

Students can reach out to Jenna via email at:


Aaron Zabrinas (rear, second from left) and Ava Krepp (rear, third from right) discussed their journey studying abroad in Germany this Spring. (Photo via Pulse@ChathamU)

Aaron Zabrinas’ 23  and Ava Krepp’ 25 share their experiences during their 2 week stay in Germany visiting the Neuschwanstein Castle, German countryside, and the Bauhaus-style neighborhoods.

For more information, click the link below:


When will you study abroad? Please contact the Office of International Affairs with any questions about study and intern abroad programs, the application process, or funding at

Vilousa Hahembe Global UGRAD visiting student

Vilousa Hahembe, Global UGRAD visiting student, studied at Chatham University in  Spring 2023. She took classes in economics and was involved on-campus with several student organizations. In February, Vilousa was one of four students to presented on “My Generation: Societal expectations from around the world” and shared her experiences navigating the differences between her home country and the United States. After her program at Chatham ended and she returned home, Vilousa is still working to share her experiences. She met with US Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken, during his visit to Papua New Guinea.

Vilousa Hahembe, Global UGRAD scholar and Chatham University visiting student, in red.

FB post from the U.S. Department of State.

A Strong Willed Woman: A Biography of Samira Rustami

A Strong Willed Woman: A Biography of Samira Rustami

By Uma (a pseudo name)

March 2023

Samira at Chatham University

  Samira Rustami was born on October 16, 2001, in Kabul, Afghanistan. She lived her life under strict societal norms, widespread gender discrimination, and outright inequality. Despite those challenges, she finished school with excellent grades and completed her university degree. She fled Afghanistan due to the Taliban’s takeover and made it to the American land of freedom. Currently, she is working on her nursing degree.

Samira has five sisters, one brother, six aunts, two uncles, and many cousins. Because she had a big family, she spent her childhood mostly with her relatives without socializing with anyone outside her family. She had a disadvantaged position in society due to her gender and poor caste. In a country like Afghanistan, from the time a girl is born, society pressures them to give up on their dreams. “Repeatedly, I was reminded that I should not pick up a book or a pen. I just need to learn how to cook and clean to serve the family,” said Samira in an interview. If her parents found out that she secretly studied, they would tear her books or burn them. That was very different from the way her brother was raised. He was always showered with encouragement. She would often find herself wanting to be a boy instead.

In 2005, Samira went to school at the age of five. She was a top student in her class, and by twelve she was done with school. She loved her teachers, who inspired girls to get an education. After her graduation from high school, she received a scholarship to attend university because she had a high score in her entrance test. 

In 2016, Samira read the book Malala Yousufzai[1], which inspired her. She applied to a university in India, and a year later she started to attend the university at the age of 16. Her uncle helped her financially, which brought her closer towards her dream. She studied there for three years and got her Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Finance. This was a remarkable achievement because, according to UNESCO’s data on Afghanistan, the literacy rate for women aged 15-24 in 2018 was 62%, and the gross enrollment ratio for females in tertiary education was 16% in 2019. Samira was persistent in pursuing higher education because she understood its value. To her, it meant freedom and independence.

In 2021, she got back to Afghanistan with the hope to find a job in the finance industry. Despite working hard to achieve her goals, never giving up, and continuing to search for opportunities, her gender continued to deter her employment options. Finally, she found a job at a five-star hotel. She worked there for seven months, but due to the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan in August 2021, she realized that she had to take a frightening risk and leave behind her whole life, achievements, and family members, who she might never see again. Samira and her husband left the country with a small backpack. She still cannot put into words her feelings about that day.

The population of Afghanistan is 40 million people, and by December 2021, approximately 8% of the population had been displaced. Samira and her husband got lucky, and they made it to the United States in August 2021. Despite ongoing challenges, the United States gave her another chance to improve her education career and pursue another bachelor’s degree under a partially funded scholarship at Chatham University.

Samira, who turned 22 years in October 2022 is taking classes at Chatham University and wants to become a nurse to help people. She has an adorable daughter and caring husband. Even though she had an extremely hard life in her childhood, she does not regret that. Furthermore, she hopes her story will inspire other young Afghan girls and encourage them to believe that they can achieve their goal too. Samira has a strong will, and nothing will stop her from achieving more.

  1. Malala Yosufzai: a writer who lived in a similar culture, who overcame every challenge and became famous

Habib Sorosh: A Biography

By Mohammad Omar Ahmadi

March 2023

Habib reading his essay at Chatham University

Habibullah Sorosh is a professor, screenwriter, and playwright whose research includes the history of Afghan cinema, the structural effects of absurdist dramas, and Kazakh historical films. Born in the Jaghori district, Ghazni province of Afghanistan, Habibullah received his Bachelor of Cinema and Theater from the Department of Fine Arts at Kabul University and Master of Art Criticism at Kazakh National Academy of Arts Temorbek Zhurgenov. For the past ten years, Habibullah has been a professor at Kabul University in the Department of Fine Arts and Dramatic Literature. He is currently a Visiting Researcher in the Schools of Drama and Art at Carnegie Mellon University.

Born as Habibullah on October 28, 1985, in a relatively poor family, Habib is the 5th child of Juma Khan and Hakima. Juma Khan was a hard working farmer focusing on growing wheat, the most important crop in Afghanistan, followed by rice, barley, and cotton. Hakima was a housewife who did household jobs and raised their children. She also helped Juma Khan with farming, which is common for Afghan women living in rural villages. Juma Khan was a kind person known for his honesty within his community. He was like a friend to Habib and his siblings. Hakima was a smart woman, and she was always a good adviser in Habib’s life.

Habib has four living brothers (Rohullah, Mohammad Sharif, Mohammad Zarif and Mirza Hussain) and two living sisters (Jamila and Najiba). His oldest brother named Mohammad Asif was lost on his way to Iran in 2010, and still no one knows what happened to him, but after these many years, Habib and his family have accepted that he may have died. Another older brother Rahmatullah got Hepatitis, which damaged his liver, and died in 2012. Mohammad Asif had a Bachelor of Philosophy and Rahmatullah had studied up to 6th grade of high school. His living brothers Rohullah and Mohammad Sharif studied up to 8th grade of high school. Mohammad Zarif is a dentist, and his younger brother Mirza Hussain has a Bachelor in Dramatic Literature. His older sister Jamila only finished primary school. However, his younger sister Najiba has a Bachelor in Cinema.

Growing in a small village named Shahrzaida, a historical place, in Jaghori district, Habib attended Abu Raihan al Beroni public school from 1992 to 2004. During all those years, Habib was a smart student who always got the first place in class. The most influential person in his life was his teacher named Afzali who was a kind and humble person. He was Habib’s first grade teacher who not only educated him, but also helped him to find his educational path. He got cancer and died in 2019.

One most memorable experience of Habib’s life during high school is when he was in the 11th grade. One of his classmates had four members of his family as teachers who helped him to cheat and take the first place in class. Habib, therefore, got the second place in class. Habib complained to the administration of the school, and after taking the exams given by school committee members, he achieved his first place in class again. This incident made Habib very sad. He felt his family’s financial situation affected his education. By giving bribes and having family relationships with the teachers, someone took his position in the class. However, he wanted to show everyone that they couldn’t take his intelligence from him. His self-confidence and hope for a better tomorrow motivated him to stand against this inequity.

After high school, Habib attended Kabul University, and after four years (2006-2009), he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Theater and Cinema. In 2012, he started his Master of Art Criticism Science program with a specialty in Film Studies in the Kazakh National Academy of Art named after Temorbek Zhorgenov in Kazakhstan and finished his degree in 2015.

After his master’s studies, in 2015, Habib married Adila, who was a midwife, in Kabul, Afghanistan. They have two sons (Sami and Nima), Sami was born on August 16th, 2016, and Nima was born on April 2nd, 2020.

During his career, Habib had a lot of cultural and social activities in Afghanistan. In 2015, he was selected many times as a member of a judge panel in film, theater, and dramatic literature in national and international festivals. In 2017, he achieved the award for the best playwright among a large number of nominees from different countries for his drama about Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammad Balkhi (Rumi) in an international festival in India. Habib has also authored two books named “Characterization in Drama” in 2017 and “Criticism of Dramatic Literature” in 2019. He has also written and published several scientific articles for national and international journals during these years. 

Unfortunately, in 2021, the Taliban took over Kabul and Afghanistan, which forced him to leave the country because the Taliban has a very hostile relationship with art and artists in Afghanistan. He was a taboo artist in their eyes. Furthermore, he has written and directed many plays and screenplays about the Taliban, al-Qaeda, sheikhs, ISIS, and warlords of the region, all of whom wanted an opportunity to exact revenge on him. He has shown many plays at the Afghan National Festival and at international festivals. He has written a play called “The Unsung Song of the Village,” in which his sister (Najiba Sorosh) played the central role. This performance seriously criticized and ridiculed the views and ideology of the Taliban, ISIS, al-Qaeda, sheikhs, and warlords. This performance and his plays were widely reported in the media, such as the BBC and other  news sites. As a result, he was threatened with death by the Taliban, who attempted to arrest him and his sister several times but were unsuccessful.

Finally, when the Taliban started house-to-house searches in Kabul, Afghanistan, he and his family (his wife and his two sons) had to flee to Pakistan, and then they came to the United States of America with the cooperation of the organization Scholars at Risk. He is currently a Visiting Researcher in the Schools of Drama and Art at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is researching the fields of theater, cinema, and art theory.

Apply for your US Passport Early! Be Aware of Processing Delays.

Be ready to travel!

If you are planning to study or intern abroad or take an overseas vacation, you’ll need travel documents, including a valid passport. Currently, there are major delays in passport processing, with regular processing listed at 10-13 weeks, not including mailing times. If you want to study intern or travel abroad in the next year, it will benefit you to APPLY EARLY.

What documents do US citizens need to travel outside the US?

Passport: Apply several months in advance for a new passport. If you already have one, it should be valid for at least six months after you return home and have two or more blank pages, depending on your destination. Otherwise, some countries may not let you enter.

Visas: You may need to get a visa before you travel to a foreign destination. Contact the embassy of the countries you will be visiting for more information.

Learn more about passport application requirements, procedures, and processing times at

If you don’t have a passport, apply now! If you do have one, please check your passport validity! Email us at with questions.

What Are You Doing This Summer?

Jishnu Jayathilak, spring 2020, Cyprus

How will you spend your summer break? Yes, it may be February, but now is the time to make your summer plans.

Why not get ahead with classes or internships that can fulfill Chatham undergraduate degree requirements AND travel to another country to experience a new culture? You can expand your worldview, and build your resume, all while you make new friends from around the world.

A study or intern abroad program can be part of your summer plan. Here are some affordable Chatham partner options with a variety of coursework for you to consider as well as funding opportunities.

Costa RicaVeritas University

SpainNebrija University




TaiwanTunghai University

ItalyAccademia Italiana or Umbra Institute

Looking for a summer internship abroad or a study program in another location? Check out these program providers:


All Chatham undergraduates can receive $1,200 toward any credit-bearing experience abroad. The Study abroad voucher is available one time to all full-time undergraduate students who have earned at least 30 undergraduate credits. You don’t need to apply for the voucher – it will be awarded to all eligible students for the term in which they study abroad, reducing the amount owed by $1,200.

Students completing an International Studies Certificate and 6 or more credits of study or internship abroad may be eligible for an additional $1,800 in international certificate funding (verification required).

Chatham offers two experiential learning scholarships, the Glenda Rich DeBroff and Sally Mercke Heym scholarships which students may apply for toward a summer international experience. There are two Rachel Carson-named experiential learning scholarships available for students whose summer programs include environmental fieldwork.  Applications (see link for application) for Chatham summer experiential learning scholarships are due to by 2/28/23.

Students who receive a Pell grant at the time of application (or will receive a Pell grant during the term they study abroad) can apply for a Gilman Scholarship, see . The application is open now with a deadline of 3/9/23. This cycle encompasses Summer 2023, Fall 2023, Academic Year 2023-2024, and Spring 2024 programs or internships.


Chatham students must complete a Study Abroad Application and submit a Course Equivalencies Worksheet to Academic Advising. Students completing an internship must follow Career Development guidelines for registering for an internship.

The Office of International Affairs is here to help! Please contact us with any questions about study and intern abroad programs, the application process, or funding. We can be reached at



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