As a new decade begins, we at Austin College are looking forward even as we embrace our heritage. The 2019-2020 academic year marks the implementation of the Compass Curriculum. Rooted in the powerful, time-tested tradition of the liberal arts, the Compass Curriculum will enable our students to deeply explore ideas from diverse perspectives, preparing them with the knowledge and skills to navigate and participate in the global society of the 21st Century. The Compass Curriculum also requires students to participate in applied learning experiences, such as research, internships, or programs like SEPA (Social Entrepreneurship for the Alleviation of Poverty) and Model UN.
One of those learning applications is travel, as highlighted throughout this issue of Austin College Magazine. Travel experiences provide connections beyond the textbook. History is alive when crouching in a bunker or walking a battlefield. Understanding of environmental issues becomes broader and more immediate hiking through rain forests or across tundra. Any study of language and culture is deepened through firsthand experience and immersion.
We often use the term ’RooNation, but maybe for this edition of the magazine it should be ’RooWorld. The list of countries around the globe where Austin College students and alumni go is literally from Argentina to Zambia. This past summer alone, we had students studying and working in Greenland, Paraguay, Ecuador, Honduras, Argentina, and Austria, to name a few. They served in cities, in remote rural areas, and everywhere in between. They applied their skills firsthand in clinics, in schools, and in retirement homes, but perhaps more importantly, they actually experienced another culture and forged international bonds of friendship and understanding.
Countless alumni have told me the difference a travel experience made to them, and these experiences are in our DNA. It’s who we are. Over the last 20 years, nearly two thirds of our graduates have traveled through JanTerm, Global Outreach Fellowships, and study abroad. Others recognize the value of travel and applied learning at Austin College as well. Last fall, the College received a Global Citizen Award that honors leaders from the United States and abroad for their contributions to global citizenship, diversity, inclusion, and cross-cultural understanding. Our students are recognized individually, too. Austin College has the most Fulbright recipients, per capita, of any college in Texas.
This past semester, I had the opportunity to attend several student presentations about their international summer research experiences. I was deeply impressed with their work but maybe even more impressed by the fact that they were there to do their work. With no prior connections, they were taking off to places like Thailand, Singapore, or Paraguay. It served as a powerful reminder that Austin College students are as they’ve always been: curious, smart, and, yes, fearless!
While you turn the pages of this issue, know that as this new decade begins, some things never change. At Austin College, we ARE transforming students so they can transform the world.
Enjoy the magazine. Thank you for your support of ’RooWorld.
STEVEN P. O’DAY, J.D.
President, Austin College