Study Away at Aquinas College

Global Ambassadors

Global Ambassador Bios

Autumn Ackerson
Major: Psychology
Program: Ireland 

Studying abroad, for me, was something I had to do in college. I was not only searching for the right college, but I was also searching for the right study abroad program. The first time I toured Aquinas, I had my heart set on Tully Cross and it has turned out to be the pinnacle of my undergraduate experience, so far. I grew up in the city, so moving to rural Ireland for four months seemed like the opposite of what some people thought I would like, but from the first night we were there, I knew I would end up enjoying it far more than I anticipated.

My experience abroad has given me a newfound sense of independence but also has helped me rely and count on those around me more. From learning how to find the cheapest flights to taking the back roads and walking for hours, I had my friends that I came with, as well as the friends that I made in Ireland there to help me. My favorite part of Tully Cross were the people. Like Aquinas, Tully Cross has a close-knit community that is rooted in a rich culture. Tully Cross is just the right size where you feel welcomed instantly and make life-long friendships with the locals, but also those you came with. The pool tournaments, trips to the pub, the classes with Irish professors, open-mic nights, and group hikes have helped me appreciate this small, rural village; a place I would never have encountered without Aquinas. Now, I get to call this place a home away from home and a place that will always be near and dear to my heart. 

I came to Ireland with few expectations, knowing that I would have a lot of change in a short amount of time, especially being away from everything I was so used to for four months. I knew there would be a lot of adjusting and learning from others as well as myself but like many before me, I have fallen madly in love with Ireland. I have fallen in love with the people, the culture, the way of life, and the environment.  I want to help others fall in love with Tully Cross, as well as discover the amount of potential there is in studying abroad. I would love to share my experience just enough so that others can create their own.

Morgan Abate
Major: History
Program: Ireland 

My name is Morgan Abate and I am a senior at Aquinas College. I am a history major and political science minor. In the Spring Semester of 2018, I was able to study abroad in Ireland. It has been one of the best experiences in my entire life! This trip allowed me to grow as a student and a person while living in one of the most beautiful areas in the world. I learned a lot about Irish history and culture while meeting and establishing relationships with the locals. The internship program has allowed me to take a few steps closer towards my career and meet mentors in the field. Aquinas College’s unique relationship with Tully Cross immerses you into the Irish culture and the lovely community. Traveling is such a great opportunity to learn firsthand about cultures. My experience studying away has gave me the confidence to continue to travel on my own to other places. I will always cherish the memories I have made while living in Tully Cross. I highly encourage every student to study abroad!

Kelsey Dassance
Major: Communication 
Program: Italy 

The memories I have from the semester I spent in Rome are some that I will treasure forever. As a student in Rome, I had the opportunity to attend mass at least once week at St. Peter’s Basilica, see Pope Francis on a weekly basis, pass by the Coliseum on my way to class, admire the work of some of the world’s greatest artists every day, become familiar with the Eternal City, and of course eat a tremendous amount of gelato. There was not a day that went by that I was not reminded of how incredibly blessed I was to live in such a historically and culturally rich city with so much evidence of faith and age.

Overall, my Study Away experience shaped me to always be a person of curiosity and adventure. There is a desire in all of us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves; and I think study abroad allowed me to do that. The opportunity to see the world and explore new places while living outside of my comfort zone was rare and valuable, and worth every penny!

There is not a day that goes by where I do not feel “Romesick” and dream of the eternal city and all of the phenomenal memories I made there. Rome has the biggest piece of my heart, and I cannot wait to go back one day!

Noelle Gauss
Major: Translation and Interpretation (German)
Program: Freiburg, Germany 

I am so glad I was able to participate on the Academic Year in Freiburg 2017-2018 Study Away program! It had been a lifelong dream to live abroad for the full, calendar year, and Aquinas did a wonderful job in helping make that happen.  Although it was difficult sometimes with reviving the program after a long participation gap, it was well worth it. This program had been the most educational and enriching year of my academic experience, and truly, my life. I was able to travel across Europe and even the world, not to mention all the friends along the way. It was an absolutely amazing experience that I would do over and over again.

The experience to study away in a totally different culture was both fantastic and scary at first. The German language was still only used at Aquinas; I finally had the chance to use my second -language every day! I had a few technical problems at first- none of which I would have been able to face without the support of the ambassadors and tutors around me. Even with the challenges living abroad for so long brought, there were wonderful memories that I can never forget.  I am so honored to accept this role and encourage others to take on the challenge of studying away, and look forward to sharing my experience as a Global Ambassador!

Alessia Restivo
Major: International Business and French language
Program: France

To become a Global Ambassador is something I see as an opportunity to help and be a voice for the international program community we have at Aquinas College. Being a member of this program allows me to show other students that our college provides the once in a lifetime opportunity of studying abroad. As a Global Ambassador, I am able to help others truly understand how studying abroad is an opportunity that gives us, Aquinas students, a chance to explore foreign corners of the world that await to be seen!

 International exploration can benefit life now and in the future for us students. It allows us to learn new languages, live and practice cultures that are foreign to us, and ultimately grow as an individual. Flying across oceans or even the country can sometimes be challenging, but with us ambassadors by your side, I promise you will be able to make the best memories and carry skills that will benefit you for a life time. Being a Global Ambassador allows me to express my passion for traveling and the gratitude I have for Aquinas. I feel honored to be a part of a college that provides an amazing program for students to grow beyond the walls of Aquinas College.

As the French would say, “Bon Voyage” as you take on your next journey!

Olivia Smith
Year: Junior
Major: Economics, International Studies, and Spanish Translation and Interpretation

I studied abroad to Salamanca, Spain in Fall 2017 and it was the best three months of my life. I knew I was going to study abroad since I visited Sevilla with my high school Spanish class, so the study away programs at Aquinas were one of the main factors in choosing to attend AQ. Ever since returning from Spain, I have been advocating to everyone I talk to about the need to go out and see the world, live in another culture, experience differences from your norms, and gain a global perspective on your identity and the identity of diverse people.

I completely immersed myself into the Spanish culture, intentionally living my life as a Spanish university student would, and though it was difficult at first, by the end I felt like I could live in Spain happily and naturally forever. Meeting so many students of all different ages from all over the world through my classes allowed me to learn about their world views, lifestyles, and opinions that were shaped by their specific cultures and backgrounds. Although I considered myself pretty culturally competent before my travels, I realized abroad that you can never really understand what you’re reading or learning about until you go out and see it, talk to real people from those places and cultures, and actually experience what it is like to be a foreigner and out of place linguistically, ethnically, or otherwise.

Beyond practical skills such as planning travel logistics, budgeting, and independent responsibility, the biggest takeaways I gained from my experience were an improvement in the Spanish language, the diverse friendships I made, and the sheer opening of my eyes to how different and similar cultures around the world are. Living with a host family really forced me to use my Spanish and adopt to the Spanish daily schedule (school/work, meals, TV shows/news, going out). However, I spent most of my time out of the house, practicing Spanish with students from Spain, Japan, Canada, China, Brazil, Russia, India and all over Latin America and Europe. Being away from my own country for so long and in such an immersive atmosphere was such a unique and intense experience to share with so many people that we were able to create stronger relationships by sharing our fears, excitements, anticipations, expectations, and comparing how things are “in my country.” Through the support of the other international students in my classes, and of people I was meeting all over during my travels, I was able to learn more about who I am and who people who have never been to the US are. I learned that there were certain lifestyle differences I didn’t even think were possible by talking to people who have experienced a completely different world than myself—things they don’t put in textbooks. Overall, it was the most enlightening, impactful, thrilling, and fun experience of my life.

Paige Lonergan
Program: Costa Rica 

Major: Spanish and Business Administration

I studied abroad in Santa Ana, Costa Rica in the Spring of 2018. I always wanted to study abroad while I was in high school when we would learn about the different countries and their cultures, but I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to be able to do it. When the time came for me to actually leave to go abroad I couldn’t believe it; my dream was coming true. My four months abroad were amazing and life changing.

I came into Costa Rica knowing how to read, write, and listen in Spanish, but barely able to speak the language. I was nervous that I wasn’t going to be able to communicate with my professors or my host family, but that is not what happened. I was greeted with understanding and excitement to teach. I learned all about the language, history, and culture of the beautiful country in both my classes and at home. By the end of the semester I felt fully immersed knowing both the culture and being able to speak Costa Rican Spanish, including the slang, with little to no problem.

During my time in Costa Rica I got to experience a different way of living and go on many adventures. The fruits and vegetable were from either the farmer’s market or my host family’s yard. The breads and meats were fresh from bakery or butcher’s shop down the block. Family was always around. Kids, grandkids, and friends filled my host’s family’s home with talking and laughter all day, every day. I got to see the positivity that all Ticos have. They rarely speak of anything that’s controversial or sad; only Pura Vida.

I fell in love with the beautiful country of Costa Rica and all of the people in it. I wish I was back there every single day. The life lessons and adventures are ones that have changed me and that I will never forget. I think that every student should go abroad, especially to Costa Rica. I would love to share my experiences and help other students make their study abroad dreams come true!

Aidan Saggers
Program: England 

 I am a third year student at Aquinas college and I recently go to take part in the 2018 London Study Abroad trip. Being a part of this first group and helping to drive the path for a new international partnership with a university was truly one of the best experiences in my life thus far. I got to not only travel and see the world which is my life long dream but I also go to take part in an internship with the local Business Improvement District. St. Mary’s University offers students many wonderful opportunities to get involved and they have wonderful partnerships to put students into internships they are going to be comfortable in. I look forward to being a voice for Aquinas and for the London Study Abroad opportunity!!

Alexa Rumohr
Year: Senior
Program: England
Major: Community Leadership

Ever since I was a child, studying abroad in London has been a pipe dream that I’ve had for myself. When I found out Aquinas was beginning a London abroad program, I knew I had to do everything in my power to experience that. Studying abroad for three and a half months taught me things I would have never learned in years of university in the United States. Resilience in succeeding in foreign studies, patience in waiting for trains, peace in the midst of homesickness, and perseverance in travel. Every sacrifice you make to study abroad is worth it and it is my goal to help others plan, organize, and set themselves up to achieve their dream of studying in London too!