BHSU alum creates international development scholarship for students

Author: BHSU Communications/Thursday, February 16, 2017/Categories: 2017

Black Hills State University alum James Dzierwa (right) and his wife Ivanka recently established a scholarship at BHSU for students interested in international development. The first scholarship was awarded to Carissa Deming, music education major from Newcastle, Wyo.

Carissa Deming, music education major from Newcastle, Wyo., is the first recipient of the Black Hills State University James and Ivanka Dzierwa Family Scholarship, an endowment created by BHSU alum James Dzierwa for BHSU students interested in international development.

After working and traveling to 100 countries throughout his career as a program officer and contracts director, Black Hills State University alum James Dzierwa is paving the way for students to build a career in international relations.

Dzierwa and his wife, Ivanka, recently established a scholarship at BHSU for students interested in international development. The first scholarship was awarded to Carissa Deming, music education major from Newcastle, Wyo.

"In grade school I loved the notion of different cultures and places I learned about in geography class," said Dzierwa. "With this scholarship, we hope to help young people with interest in the global world but who need some financial help pursuing their dreams."

With a Top Secret U.S. Government security clearance, Dzierwa has 25 years of experience as a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contracts administrator. USAID is the lead U.S. Government agency working to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.

Dzierwa says he remembers taking his Peace Corps entrance test in downtown Deadwood in 1963 after he finished his degree in French and business administration at BHSU. He was placed in Morocco and served his Peace Corps term working as an English as a second language teacher for nearly two years, an experience that set into motion his career in international development.

Dzierwa's work has directly influenced agriculture in Albania and Romania, health care in Hungary, exports in the Caribbean, women's leadership in Kosovo, and construction in Egypt. He has negotiated multi-million dollar contracts and authored multi-national agreements. An example of his work was when Dzierwa used his French degree from BHSU to resolve, in spoken and written French, a nine year dispute with officials of Port of Algiers in northern Africa on the Mediterranean Sea, removing a key hurdle to establishing U.S. diplomatic relations.  

Now retired and living in Falls Church, Va., outside Washington, D.C., Dzierwa says there are many jobs with an international flavor and purpose available to today's students.

"BHSU students can make it far enough to get into important decision-making for our country," said Dzierwa. "Through this scholarship, we're hoping to inspire recipients to dig deep and envision their careers in international affairs. We're helping to open doors, and it's the window seats that get the view."
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