UNC Asheville Receives $500,000 Anonymous Gift for International
Endowment Will Fund Experiences for Students
When Mary Snow arrived at the University of
Copenhagen, she couldn’t have been more homesick. However, as a
participant in UNC Asheville’s Study Abroad/Study Away program, she
challenged herself to stay.
“I had a really hard time the first week when I
realized I couldn’t just jump into my car and come home,” said Snow.
“But once I became comfortable with my surroundings and fellow students,
I had the absolute best experience of my life.”
Snow, who graduated from UNC Asheville in December,
is planning a two-month journey to China, Vietnam and Thailand this
spring. When she returns, she hopes to pursue a career as a travel
writer. “Studying abroad gave me the courage to do more. I now feel like
my possibilities are endless,” said Snow.
An anonymous donor is making sure that other UNC
Asheville students will also have the opportunity to pursue
life-changing international travel. The donor has given nearly $500,000
to the University to create the UNC Asheville International Experience
Fund. The fund will provide scholarships to help students pursue a range
of travel options, from one-week international trips to full semesters
Global changes in the 21st century have made an
international focus in higher education imperative. The
lowering of trade and political barriers coupled with astonishing
technical advances have made it possible to communicate and do business
instantaneously with people across the planet. Universities must prepare
future leaders and citizens for this highly interdependent world by
opening up the boundaries of teaching, research, service and travel.
The donor was motivated to establish the UNC
Asheville International Experience Fund after learning about the
successful trip of a group of eight UNC Asheville women students who
traveled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates last spring for the first
international “Women as Global Leaders” conference.
junior Katherine Rozycki, of Denver, N.C., was one of the students who
attended the conference.
“As our world
grows smaller, our sense of awareness must grow wider,” said Rozycki.
“By traveling to Dubai, I gained a depth of understanding that I would
never have had simply by remaining in the classroom.”
UNC Asheville senior Katie Morris, of Boone,
N.C., first thought of studying abroad during an inspiring
lecture on imperial China. Her fascination with Asia grew and she sought
out a fitting opportunity in Thailand. She delved into courses on Thai
language and culture at Thammasat University in Bangkok for four months
and then spent two months living with a family on a farm in rural
“Traveling abroad teaches you about the world and human nature, and
makes you realize that your civic duty extends far beyond your own
community and country,” said Morris. “International travel makes you a
citizen of the world.”
couldn’t agree more. “We are now a world civilization. UNC Asheville
students need the exposure and opportunity to begin to experience and
understand cultures beyond our state and country. So much of industry,
major news and changes in the global economy come from beyond our
borders that our students must get the breadth of experience that
international travel provides to succeed,” the donor said.
some 125 UNC Asheville students travel abroad each year, but many more
cannot afford to pursue the opportunity. “Traditional financial aid
packages often do not cover travel overseas. The International
Experience Fund will be a tremendous benefit to students who often have
no other means to travel,” said Pete Williams, director of UNC
Asheville’s Study Abroad/Study Away Program. “We hope others in the
community will share in the commitment to international education and
add to the endowment so we can expand these opportunities for our
- Alex Comfort, UNC Asheville Associate Vice Chancellor for
- Jill Yarnall, UNC Asheville Public Information Assistant Director,