Gift of Adventure
Roy Rom describes his grandson, Nathan “Kitt” Rom, as someone who lived on the edge of life.
“He accepted life as a personal challenge,” he said.
Kitt Rom earned a perfect score on the SAT and took a gap year before his freshman year in college at Georgetown University, traveling and working in Europe and Australia along the way. In 2016 — in the spring semester of his freshman year at Georgetown — he died in a skiing accident, so his grandfather, a professor emeritus of horticulture at the University of Arkansas, chose to honor his grandson’s memory with a scholarship.
“After his accident, I thought about how I could honor his spirit and sense of adventure,” he said. “Study abroad would be something he’d be interested in.”
Roy Rom participated in a European travel experience of his own before joining the faculty and studied abroad in Eastern Europe and Asia thanks to National Academy of Science and USAID research grants.
“It excited in me the need to know the world,” he said. “There’s nothing like having that firsthand experience.”
Thanks to the Nathan “Kitt” Rom Memorial Study Abroad Scholarship, Jessica Perez of Little Rock had the opportunity to study as an exchange student at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England. Perez is an accounting major and finance minor and spent a semester overseas.
“Studying abroad for a whole semester is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” Perez said. “To make it happen, I worked over the summers to save money and knew I would have to put effort into scholarship applications. This scholarship specifically was a great surprise and has been the difference between tight budgeting and being able to enjoy the great opportunities that surround me on this trip.”
In addition to the educational component, Perez says she feels like she’s grown personally as well.
“I feel a great sense of independence when I think about how far I’ve traveled alone – figuring things out on the go and having to quickly learn from mistakes,” she said. “My eyes have been opened to different cultures, people and places, and I love the impact that these experiences have made on my outlook.
“The people I have met – from my classmates, to roommates, other travelers, international students and complete strangers – have made my time abroad worth it. I love hearing about other people’s backgrounds, opinions on current events or simply about their day.”
Give Students the World
- Students who study abroad can earn credit hours and reap many social, cultural and personal benefits, such as self-confidence, self-reliance, global sensitivity and adaptability.
- Named endowed scholarships for study abroad or international experiences start at $50,000 for those that are designated to a college, school or unit and $25,000 for those that are undesignated.
- Survey results from the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) indicated a tie between international experiences and employment, particularly an interconnection between personal and intercultural growth and professional development. In fact, 86 percent of respondents indicated that education abroad programs aided their ability to formulate career goals and clarify professional aspirations.