The Chance of a Lifetime

by Carolyn Hartmann

The University of Houston aims to provide students with real-world experiences, and what better way than a scholarship to travel abroad!  We recently caught up with the 2016 winners of the F.E.E.T scholarship, Lauren Hauser and Brinda Penmetsa.

Left: Lauren Hauser; Right: Brinda Penmetsa

In December 2015, Lauren Hauser and Brinda Penmetsa received the news of a lifetime. They had just won the F.E.E.T Scholarship. The Faber-Economon European Travel Scholarship (F.E.E.T.) is an award specifically designed to introduce Honors students to Europe. Made available through the generosity of two Honors alumni, Hanneke Faber and Aris Economon, the F.E.E.T. Scholarship provides Honors students the chance to visit Europe without having to enroll in classes or take time off from school.  As part of the Scholarship, Lauren and Brinda will receive airfare to/from Europe, a 3-week Eurail pass, and a ~€1000.00 stipend (approximately $1,300 in American dollars.)

“I think this trip will give us a chance to hear other peoples’ stories,” said Lauren.  “Being from such a diverse University, it seems fitting that we will have the opportunity to embrace other cultures.” “It will allow us to learn from others’ perspectives and immerse ourselves completely in a new culture,” said Brinda.

Besides learning from others, Lauren and Brinda each have their own bucket list of things they want to accomplish while visiting Europe. “I really hope to see Pompeii and the Sistine Chapel,” said Brinda. “I am really looking forward to visiting the Vatican,” said Lauren. “We have the chance to see so many sites because we are setting our own agenda.” “We do not have any chaperones who are giving us an itinerary.” “It is a little scary,” said Brinda. “We have to determine where we will stay and decide on the best form of transportation.”

For the first few days of their trip, Lauren and Brinda will be staying with the Scholarship’s donors, Hanneke Faber and Aris Economon at their home in the Netherlands. “We recently met Mr. and Mrs. Economon,” said Lauren. “They were so nice and gracious.”  “We were able to meet their children, who we are excited to get-to-know,” said Brinda.

While visiting with the Economons, Lauren and Brinda will have the opportunity to convey what this special adventure means to them. “Because we will be completely on our own in Europe, I know I am going to do a lot of growing,” said Lauren. “I truly value the opportunities that I have been fortunate to receive from the kindness of others.” “I hope I’m in a position to give back one day because of the opportunities that have been afforded to me,” said Brinda.

When asked if they could share pictures from their trip upon their return, Lauren said that she and Brinda might actually start their own blog!

Stay tuned.