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2011 News Releases

Longwood student selected for study abroad grant from Phi Kappa Phi national honor society

July 18, 2011

Ellery Ruther, a rising Longwood University junior

Ellery Ruther, a rising Longwood University junior, was one of 45 college and university students from across the country to be selected recently for a Study Abroad Grant from Phi Kappa Phi national honor society.

Ruther, double-majoring in biology and German, will study at Heidelberg University in Germany from February through June 2012. She was one of 444 applicants for the annual round of 45 $1,000 grants for undergraduates that were announced in May. She is the only student from a Virginia college or university to be selected.

Ruther will be in a program at Heidelberg University for American students with which Longwood has been affiliated since the early 1990s. After a two-week introductory period devoted to intensive German study, Ruther, who will live on the Heidelberg campus with German students, will take a test to determine her German proficiency. Her performance on that test will determine what courses she is allowed to take. A score in the highest category would enable her to take any course offered by the university.

"I know that I will take basic German literature courses, which will satisfy my German major requirements, and also biology courses, in German, which will probably count as German electives," said Ruther, who has never been to Germany. "The first two weeks, I will take as many as classes I want, about 15, which will meet once a week. Then I have to whittle the number of classes down, probably to around five or six. I will receive academic credit from Longwood, probably 16 to 18 credit hours. I also will have an opportunity to intern in a museum."

To receive one of these grants, students must have a 3.5 minimum grade-point average, have completed at least 30 but no more than 90 credit hours, and submit a 500-word essay and two letters of recommendation from campus leaders that speak to their personal qualities, said Maria Davis, a spokeswoman for Phi Kappa Phi. The students don't have to be a member of Phi Kappa Phi, but their school must be a member. "The students' study abroad experiences are anywhere from one week to a year," Davis said, adding that this year's group must do their study abroad between May 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012. Phi Kappa Phi is the nation's oldest (founded in 1897), largest and most selective collegiate honor society, with chapters on more than 300 campuses in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.

Ruther, of Midlothian, is a member of the Cormier Honors College; was president last year of Alpha Lambda Delta freshman honor society and will be one of its two junior advisers this year; and was initiated recently into the German honor society, Delta Phi Alpha. She did an internship from May 13 through July 1 with Dr. Thomas Akre, assistant professor of biology, in which, along with another Longwood student and two from other colleges, she studied wood turtles in the Shenandoah Valley. It was during the internship, in late June, that she learned she'd been chosen for the study abroad grant.

Ruther has received financial assistance for her upcoming study in Heidelberg from the Cormier Honors College. Every honors college student who has applied for assistance for a study abroad program, a requirement for all honors college students who have entered the program since August 2009, has received such help. Also, Ruther recently received two scholarships from Alpha Lambda Delta, a $200 sophomore book award from the Longwood chapter and a $1,000 Trow Scholarship from the national chapter.

"Foreign languages are a great passion of mine," Ruther said. "In high school I took two years of Japanese, three years of Spanish, and one year of Latin."

Ruther is a graduate of Clover Hill High School and is the daughter of Torrie and Steve Ruther. She plans to pursue a career as a field biologist, possibly with the state or the federal Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.