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Expanding Boundaries: Pitt Bioengineering undergraduate Andrea Hartman wins Vira I. Heinz award to study abroad

PITTSBURGH (April 26, 2018) … Each year, the Vira I. Heinz Program for Women in Global Leadership (VIH) admits undergraduate women from 15 institutions across Pennsylvania into a one-year leadership development program that includes an opportunity to study abroad. One of this year’s recipients from the University of Pittsburgh is Andrea Hartman, a senior bioengineering student in the Swanson School of Engineering who will visit South Africa this summer.

The VIH program provides funding for women who have never traveled internationally and prepares them for tomorrow’s global challenges. In addition to international experience, recipients are required to attend two leadership development retreats in Pittsburgh and "create a Community Engagement Experience” designed to use their new-found skills to impact their local community in a positive way.

Hartman will be spending a week in Johannesburg and four weeks in Cape Town. “I chose South Africa to learn first-hand about the social, economic, and political struggles that have affected the country,” said Hartman. “I wanted to step out of my comfort zone, and I think the best way to gain a global perspective is to not only educate yourself through research, but to go there and interact with the people, immersing yourself in their culture.”

Hartman looks forward to the leadership development aspect of the program. Since starting in the Swanson School, she has enhanced her leadership skills through her co-op experience with Zimmer Biomet, a medical device company in Warsaw, Indiana. She has also made personal gains from the Swanson School’s Engineering Ambassador program and her involvement with the women’s fraternity, Chi Omega.

Hartman said, “I would like to be more involved in the Pittsburgh community which is why I look forward to being a part of a Community Engagement Experience that I and the cohort of awardees in Pittsburgh will do after our experiences abroad.” 

Hartman plans to focus her experience on education in South Africa and hopes to share that knowledge with her peers in Pittsburgh. “I believe an education system is the foundation of a society,” said Hartman. “I hope to learn about how the education system in South Africa has molded its community, and bring that back to my experience in Pittsburgh to educate others.”

The program’s namesake, Vira I. Heinz, was an active member of the Pittsburgh community and engaged in philanthropic and civic work around the region and internationally. She left a lasting mark in Pennsylvania by funding international opportunities to generations of women after her.

“Because of this award I will have the opportunity to travel for the first time, and I could not be more thankful for this incredible opportunity,” said Hartman. “I look forward to meeting all of the other women in the program!”


Contact: Leah Russell