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Source: Colby Heckathorne,
and James Hohenbary, 785-532-6904,
Photo available. Download at:
News tip/hometown interest: Baldwin City and Lawrence
News release prepared by: Jennifer Tidball, 785-532-0847,

Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2011


MANHATTAN -- It has been an international summer for Kansas State University student Colby Heckathorne.

Heckathorne, senior in elementary education, Baldwin City, received a 2011 Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grant to support two summer study abroad trips -- to China in May and Guatemala in July. Each year, Phi Kappa Phi awards $1,000 grants to support 45 undergraduates nationally as they pursue study abroad experiences. Students with a 3.5 GPA or higher can apply as sophomores and juniors. Applicants are not required to hold membership in Phi Kappa Phi.

Heckathorne, who is also getting an endorsement in English as a second language, traveled abroad through two K-State programs that involve teaching English as a second language. Both trips were three weeks long and were led by Socorro Herrera, professor of elementary education.

Christina Fanning, instructor and associate director of the Collaborative Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy Center, attended the study abroad trip to China. Tonnie Martinez, assistant professor of secondary education, traveled with the group to Guatemala.

During both trips, Heckathorne and the other students took a class and also worked at primary schools to teach English.

Five K-Sate undergraduate students and one graduate student attended the university’s inaugural trip to Guangzhou, China, and worked with students in first through fifth grade at Xiguan Experimental Primary School. Thirteen undergraduate students traveled to Guatemala City, Guatemala, and worked with kindergarten to ninth-grade students at a school called Apoyate en Mi.

In China, Heckathorne worked with first-grade students and in Guatemala she worked with students in third and seventh grade. For Heckathorne, who had never studied abroad, the trips gave her the opportunity to learn about other cultures while expanding her own knowledge.

“In China, I learned so much from the experience of being so far removed from my culture than what I’m used to,” Heckathorne said. “I think it prepared me a lot more to be a teacher of students who come to the United States and don’t speak English.

“In Guatemala, just seeing the poverty that some of the kids live in, and yet they are so resilient and come to school everyday,” she said. “It motivated me to reach my students and help them through whatever they are going through. It was very inspiring.”

But Heckathorne’s summer international experience does not stop with the two study abroad trips. In June she also traveled to Jinotepe, Nicaragua, for a mission trip. She traveled with a group of dentists, dental hygienists and doctors from Baldwin City and Lawrence to provide medical help for people in Nicaragua. Heckathorne had traveled with the same group in November to help with several construction projects in Nicaragua.

“After going in November I was in love with some of the people in Nicaragua,” Heckathorne said. “It was great to see everyone again and give back.”

After graduating in May 2012 Heckathorne plans to stay in Kansas to teach English as a second language.

“As a future teacher Colby will have much to offer her future students in Kansas,” Herrera said. “Colby's desire to take her knowledge to a much greater depth inspired her to find ways to travel to very unique places to put into action what she had learned. She gave so much of herself by risking, never turning away from the cross-cultural events that often lead to unfulfilled potential in a student. It didn't matter if it was China or Guatemala, Colby built relationships with the community, teachers and especially the students she was teaching.”

Heckathorne has also received the Megan E. Taylor Memorial Scholarship for Study Abroad. She is a College of Education Ambassador and a Kansas Teacher Service Scholar. She graduated from Baldwin High School in 2008 and is the daughter of John and Kim Heckathorne, Baldwin City.

Phi Kappa Phi, founded in 1897, is an academic honor society that admits junior and senior students from all disciplines. Its mission, reflected in programs such as the study abroad grant, is to “recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.” The K-State Chapter of Phi Kappa Phi was established in 1915.