Two UK Students Among SEC School Recipients of Dr Pepper Education Abroad Awards


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Sept. 15, 2016) — Two University of Kentucky students are among 28 students from Southeastern Conference universities who will study abroad during the 2016-17 academic year, the result of a contribution to the league by Dr Pepper. In 2015, the SEC corporate sponsor allocated $100,000 to the conference to provide study abroad opportunities for SEC students who excel in the classroom, demonstrate financial need and represent nontraditional study abroad participants.

Shazia Olivares, a sophomore poltical science major from Fort Knox, Kentucky, and Jevincio Tooson, a dietetics major from Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, are the UK recipients of the awards.  Olivares plans to study in Spain and Tooson will study in Italy.

“We are enthused to expand upon the SEC’s commitment to education by giving deserving students a chance to study abroad through the SECU academic initiative,” Jaxie Alt, senior vice president of marketing for Dr Pepper said when the program was established. “Dr Pepper has continued to fund one-of-a-kind dreams since 2008 through our tuition giveaway program, and now we are able to support the great work the SEC is doing.”

Each SEC university identified two students to participate in a faculty-led program occurring during either the summer, fall or spring terms of the 2016-17 academic year.

“Increasing the amount and type of education abroad opportunities available to SEC students has been an SECU goal for more than a decade,” said Torie Johnson, executive director of the SECU Academic Initiative. “It’s exciting to know that thanks to Dr Pepper’s generosity, more SEC students than ever will have a life-changing experience in another part of the world.”

SECU was established in 2005 as the SEC Academic Consortium, and one of its original focal points was education abroad. In response, the consortium secured an Institute for Study Abroad Foundation grant to provide scholarships for SEC students to study at Queen’s University in Belfast, Ireland. In addition, by utilizing a cooperative agreement, students from SEC universities now have access to programs offered at other SEC universities. Finally, the SEC also has an exchange partnership with the Politecnico di Torino which gives SEC engineering students the opportunity to study in Torino, Italy, each spring and Italian students opportunities at several SEC universities.

Below is the list of SEC students, their universities, majors and destinations abroad.

Student                                                                     Major                                     Destination

Christopher Chirino, University of Alabama        Education                              Europe          

Kristin Hardy, University of Alabama                    Political Science                   Germany

Maria Andreatta, University of Arkansas             International Relations        Spain

Brandon Stienke, University of Arkansas            Classical Studies                 Italy

Charles Branch, Auburn University                      Special Education                South Korea

Madison Gohlke, Auburn University                     Animal Science                    Swaziland

Daniel Bertak, University of Florida                      Computer Engineering       Russia

Cynthia Joseph, University of Florida                   Political Science                   France

Shara Cherniak, University of Georgia                 Education                              Ghana

Austin Hayes, University of Georgia                     Computer Science               Sweden

Shazia Olivares, University of Kentucky              Political Science                   Spain

Jevincio Tooson, University of Kentucky             Dietetics                                 Italy

Giovanni Coakley, Louisiana State University    Architecture                           Italy

Morgan Crier, Louisiana State University            International Studies           Canada

Cellas Hayes, University of Mississippi                Classics                                 Italy

Chelsey Helman, University of Mississippi          Psychology                           Tanzania

Ruth Fowler, Mississippi State University            Physics                                  Europe

Ryan Matijevich, Mississippi State University     Mechanical Engineering     Russia

Jeffery Chininis, University of Missouri                Bioengineering                     Rwanda

Summer Elyse Schacht, University of Missouri Biological Science               Turkey

Cho-Fei Huang, University of South Carolina     Business Economics           England

Cindy Son, University of South Carolina             Business                               Hong Kong

Kristy Hatcher, University of Tennessee              Animal Science                    Jamaica

Timothy Herman, University of Tennessee         Biological Sciences             Germany

Courtney Kuehner, Texas A&M University          Landscape Architecture      Germany

Tung Nguyen, Texas A&M University                  Environmental Design        Italy

Ahmed El-Sadek, Vanderbilt University               Neuroscience                       France

Samuel Sarfo Edwards, Vanderbilt University    Medicine, Health & Society France

About Dr Pepper

Dr Pepper, a brand of Dr Pepper Snapple Group (NYSE: DPS), is the oldest major soft drink in the United States. Since 1885, the 23 flavors of Dr Pepper have earned legions of fans. DPS is a leading producer of flavored beverages, marketing Dr Pepper and 50-plus other beverage brands across North America and the Caribbean. For more information, visit or For the brand's latest news and updates, follow Dr Pepper at or

About SECU

Using its SECU academic initiative, the Southeastern Conference sponsors, supports and promotes collaborative higher education programs and activities involving administrators, faculty and students at its fourteen member universities. The goals of the SECU initiative include highlighting the endeavors and achievements of SEC faculty and universities; advancing the merit and reputation of SEC universities outside of the traditional SEC region; identifying and preparing future leaders for high-level service in academia; increasing the amount and type of education abroad opportunities available to SEC students; and providing opportunities for collaboration among SEC university personnel. To connect with SECU, visit the academic initiative online –; on Facebook – TheSECU; on Twitter – @TheSECU; on Instagram – @TheSECUniversity; and on You Tube – SECUniversity.

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