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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 30, 2006

Two UI Students Travel With Iowa Voyagers On Annual Service Trip

When University of Iowa students Lily Sprengelmeyer and Bridget Szeluga volunteered to go on the UI Alumni Association's (UIAA) Iowa Voyagers Operation Romania service trip, they knew they would be impacting young children's lives. What they didn't realize was how the children would impact their lives.

From May 27 through June 10, 2006, Sprengelmeyer and Szeluga joined a volunteer team traveling to Romania to assist with humanitarian efforts in that country. Volunteers worked either caring for babies and toddlers in an orphanage or teaching conversational English to middle school children.

"Every day I felt as though I was making a difference because I was giving the children my love and that is the most important and rewarding thing you can do for someone," Sprengelmeyer said. "I know from this experience that I want to work with children for the rest of my life."

Sprengelmeyer, a graduate student from Galena, Ill., and Szeluga, a sophomore from Elmhurst, Ill., received the Dr. Ken Magid Child Advocacy Scholarship through the Voyagers, the UIAA's travel enterprise, to take part in the service trip.

The funding helped Szeluga and Sprengelmeyer pay for the two-week trip to Romania. The work involved caring for and playing with babies and toddlers in an orphanage. The scholarship covered the hotel room, meals, program materials and on-site training.

The scholarship, which is administered by Iowa Voyagers, will also be offered for 2007 and has been expanded to include a service trip to Costa Rica as well as Romania. The Costa Rica trip will take place from March 10-18 and the Romania trip will take place from May 26-June 16. For more details, contact Diane Baker, director of Iowa Voyagers, University of Iowa Alumni Association, 319-335-3293, 800-469-2586, or

Baker said UIAA would like to generate additional funding to expand the Magid scholarship to include more students. She said that, currently, the group only has enough money available for two scholarships.

"Last year, we had more than 30 very well-qualified students apply for the scholarship and we had to narrow it down to two," Diane Baker said. "We would like to give this opportunity to more students."

Although the scholarships are only available to UI students, the program is open to anyone interested in the service trips. Both Sprengelmeyer and Szeluga encourage interested individuals to take advantage of the unique service travel opportunity.

"This experience meant the world to me," Szeluga said. "I knew it would have a great impact on me, but until you go and touch the souls of so many children do you realize what an effect you made."

"Volunteering is the most rewarding thing you can do and it is all the more beneficial learning about yourself in an unfamiliar environment," Sprengelmeyer said. "I would highly recommend this trip - for it is simply the best thing I have ever done in my life."

The next Iowa Voyagers trip to Romania will be May 26 to June 16, 2007. The group will travel to Costa Rica March 10-18, 2007. For more information about Iowa Voyagers visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012,; Program: Diane Baker, 319-335-3293,; Writer: Kelli Andresen

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