Bryden Giving ’16: Commitment to Service Leads to Study Abroad Award Posted on October 21st, 2015 by

Bryden Giving '16 on his first day in Denmark.

Bryden Giving ’16 on his first day in Denmark.

Gustavus Adolphus College senior Bryden Giving is passionate about healthcare and travel, but mostly he cares about people. The Big Lake, Minn. native had a chance to combine all three of his passions last spring when he spent the semester in Copenhagen, Denmark with the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS). The combination proved to be a fruitful one, as Giving was awarded the institute’s Academic Excellence Award for Child Development and Diversity this summer.

Each semester, DIS recognizes the outstanding student in each of its programs. The award is given to students identified by faculty members as creative, reflective, curious, compassionate, and active participants in their courses.

“I’ve always been fascinated by other perspectives and cultures, so I was open to any study abroad experience,” Giving said. He spent hours thumbing through brochures and researching online in Gustavus’s Center for International and Cultural Education (CICE), but when he saw that DIS offered a program in child development and diversity he knew it was the right placement for him.

As a psychological science major who hopes to one day work as a pediatric occupational therapist, the program was exactly what Giving was looking for. During his time in Copenhagen, he was able to learn cross-cultural approaches to childhood and adolescence, focus on students with special needs, and conduct research on different ways of helping children with autism and sensory processing disorder. “My biggest takeaway was their perspective on the special needs community,” he said. “There’s a big focus on finding the balance between the community and the individual.”

He encourages others to explore the possibility of studying abroad. “I believe my semester of international learning gave me more heart, understanding, strength, and enhanced my ability for self-reliance. I acquired a new lens to view the world through, and have proven that I can help better our society,” Giving explained. During his time in the program he was able to visit nine different countries.

Back on campus, he is involved as a peer assistant, Be U peer coach, Gustie Buddy, and member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. In addition, Giving was selected by his peers as the 2015 Gustavus Homecoming king.

Giving (top left) and the other Gustavus Peer Assistants.

Giving (top left) with the Gustavus Peer Assistants and Amy Pehrson.

“Bryden is a reflection of exactly what we want a Gustie to be. He’s engaged, a critical thinker, motivated to seize the experience, and a servant-leader,” Director of Mentoring and Peer Education Amy Pehrson said.

Kyle Chambers, professor of psychological science and Giving’s academic advisor, agrees. “He approaches projects and topics with contagious enthusiasm that motivates the people around him to engage and contribute their best efforts. This creates a wonderful dynamic both for class discussions as well as during research collaborations outside the classroom.”

Giving has supplemented his campus involvement and time in Denmark with real-world experiences that have helped prepare him for a life in the medical field. During his time at Gustavus he has worked or interned at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, NovaCare Rehabilitation, Capernaum Pediatric Therapy, and most recently, as a behavioral support aid at Lifeworks.

As Giving prepares to apply to occupational therapy schools, he is grateful for both his time on campus and abroad. “Improving the lives of others has always been a passion of mine,” he said. “Learning about special needs and healthcare in a Danish setting combined with my experiences domestically and at Gustavus have enhanced my perspective on occupational therapy. These experiences have taught me important skills that are applicable to my future career and have given me insight into how to help people with exceptional care and thought.”


DISThe Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) is a non-profit study abroad institution with locations in Copenhagen and Stockholm, offering semester, academic year, and summer programs taught in English. Established in 1959, DIS offers students enrolled in North American universities engaging and challenging coursework enriched by faculty who teach what they do, field studies, hands-on learning opportunities, and study tours across Europe.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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