If Carol Rausch had one wish for every student at The University of Texas-Pan American it would be for them to travel to another country and experience a whole new world just as she did when she was a college student in New Jersey.
Even though she can't help all 19,000+ University students travel abroad, she is going to make sure a few of them get the opportunity to study abroad with the Carol Rausch International Studies Abroad Endowed Scholarship that she created in the UTPA Foundation after retiring in December 2010 from 25 years of service to UT Pan American.
For Rausch her love of traveling began with a $2,000 loan from her grandmother that opened her eyes to new cultures, ways of thinking and living as a study abroad student from Glassboro State College (now Rowan University). "I had this vision that I was not going to stay in New Jersey. I wanted to travel the world and I wanted to learn 32 different languages. I remember thinking those things," she said.
Rausch, who studied Latin, French and German in high school, spent a spring semester studying abroad at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark where she lived with a host family and took courses in history and political science, which she said gave her a different outlook on the subjects. She said once her semester was over she decided to stay another two months to travel Western Europe.
"You got a whole new perspective of life, the world, global economy and global importance of the environment," Rausch said.
As a study abroad student, Rausch said her experience provided her with a lifetime of lessons that she used in her career as a teacher and then as assistant to the president for four UTPA leaders.
"When I look back, it was a rich experience. It is the reason that I came to Texas. Because I had the wanderlust, I wanted to see new places and knew that I did not want to be in the same place I grew up in," she said. "I wanted to see the world and experience new things. The bicultural aspect was one of the things that brought me here (to Texas). It opened my horizons to say that New Jersey was not the only place in the world for me because there is always something new out there," she added.
With the endowment, which she established with a gift of $10,000 to the UTPA Foundation, Rausch said her hope is that students awarded the scholarship experience and appreciate different cultures and perspectives that can shape their lives just as hers was transformed.
"I hope it makes a difference in someone else's life," Rausch said. "This scholarship is all about learning and adventure. Learning to be open to different ideas and be respectful and considerate of other people because of their differences."
Because she so strongly believes in the importance of study abroad opportunities, she recently updated her estate plan to include a future bequest to the UTPA Foundation for the endowed scholarship.
If Rausch had it her way, she would make it mandatory for college students to travel abroad before graduation. "I would love that it would be a requirement for every college student before they graduate that they travel to another country, especially a third-world country. Then they would appreciate more of what they have and be respectful," she said.
"UTPA will always be my family. It will always have a very important role in my life because it gave me so much. It gave me my mission and purpose for life and my love of learning. It fulfilled all of my expectations, and I thank God that I was able to be a part of that," she said.
|Exploring Machu Picchu, the "Lost City of the Incas," was on Carol Rausch's (left) travel bucket list this year. After retiring from UTPA in 2010, she traveled to Peru with her niece Michelle Julian (right) for a two-week trip that also took them to Ecuador|