“Evelyn and I encourage others to find their ‘spark’ of interest toward experiencing educational study abroad and international travel, and we want to help support the opportunity for students at the U of A to extend their own horizons of the educational experience. We fully enjoy seeing others find the ‘spark’ to live their educational and travel dreams more fully.”
- Dennis Shaw, B.S.B.A. ’69, M.B.A. ‘70
Getting to Know the World
Rafael Toche Pizano, an Honors College student from Springdale, never considered the possibility of studying abroad because the cost of attending college was already overwhelming to him and his family.
“My family, like many immigrant families in the U.S., has always struggled financially,” he said. “Before attending college, college itself seemed like an impossible dream.”
A double major in computer science and German, Toche Pizano was offered several study abroad scholarships through the Honors College so he could travel to Germany in 2018 to strengthen his language skills further and immerse himself in the culture. Thanks to support from donors like Dennis and Evelyn Shaw during Campaign Arkansas, he had the opportunity to “get to know the world” and take his first plane ride out of the States.
“My study abroad experience was amazing,” he said. “My main goal was to really improve my German fluency. Not many of the residents of Holzkirchen, where my summer program took place, could speak English, but this was a good thing, as it forced me to use my German at all times. It was a unique learning opportunity and one that transformed my life by exposing me to things that I would have otherwise never encountered.”
Over the course of his program, Toche Pizano received an inside glimpse into the everyday life of a German family and learned a great deal about the culture. It was an experience that helped put life into perspective, he said, and allowed him to have a better understanding of both sides of opinions and arguments. And he says it has proven to be an invaluable skill in helping him build meaningful relationships with people from all backgrounds.
“The life experiences and the knowledge that is acquired while studying abroad is invaluable,” he said. “Continuing to fund students to study abroad is crucial for the sake of our future. Not only is it becoming a necessity in our increasingly globalized world, but it is also an opportunity to learn acceptance, humility and discipline. It is impossible to express how meaningful these types of scholarships are to students who struggle financially.”
Toche Pizano will graduate from the university in 2021 and plans to pursue his doctoral degree at the U of A as well. He hopes to work in machine learning and artificial intelligence one day.
Rafael Toche Pizano
Director of Development