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Sending Small Fish to Bigger Ponds

Fisheries and Wildlife professor's endowment will open up horizon-broadening opportunities through study abroad.

Professor Shawn Riley and Shari Gregory

Professor Shawn J. Riley remembers the exact moment he realized where he could make more of a difference at Michigan State. He had just asked a class of juniors and seniors to raise their hands if they’d ever traveled outside the United States. “Only a few students blushingly raised their hands,” Professor Riley recalled. “It made me stop and think, ‘This is where we can have an impact!’”

Riley, who has been teaching in Fisheries and Wildlife at Michigan State since 2001, spent time in Sweden as a Fulbright Scholar, and his wife Shari Gregory grew up traveling extensively. Both credit their adventures abroad with shaping and expanding their worldview, and want Michigan State students to have the same horizon-broadening opportunities. 

Enter: the Shawn J. Riley and Shari K. Gregory Endowment for Study Abroad. “Study Abroad experiences create those ‘Ah-ha!’ moments every student needs to be inspired to succeed in their own lives,” says Riley, “MSU students have so much to offer the world. We just wanted to help in whatever way we could…while opening their minds to all the possibilities.”

Preference for Riley and Gregory’s scholarship will be given to Fisheries and Wildlife majors at the freshman or sophomore level who have lived in Michigan for at least a portion of their childhood and do not have previous substantial experience abroad.

“Our undergraduate student population in Fisheries and Wildlife is especially concentrated from Michigan, and too few have experiences that only come from getting out of their comfort zone,” Riley says. “Shari and I are most interested that students from Michigan connect in some way with other people, cultures, and environments of the world. Those experiences will, we believe, enable MSU Fisheries and Wildlife graduates to become better stewards of the world’s natural resources.”