Global Explorer Scholarship Recipients: Meet Student Rian Ignasiak

Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Rian Ignasiak is a Freshman majoring in International Affairs. Rian spent her senior year of high school as an exchange student in Chile and Peru. She is one of the recipients of the Global Explorer Scholarship.

Tell us about your background.
I grew up in a small town approximately 30 minutes outside of Grand Rapids. For my final year of high school, I was given the opportunity by Rotary International to spend the academic year as a youth exchange student. I moved to Chile in August of 2019 for what I’d planned to be approximately ten months, and then in December 2019, I unexpectedly relocated to Peru and began the process of starting over once again. A lot had changed in just a few months, and I found myself reassessing my aspirations and feelings about the future. I learned about John Cabot University via my connections in Rotary, and I applied without knowing if it was the university I would ultimately choose, but I felt I needed more options to explore and wanted to give myself this opportunity. I learned a lot about the university through the general application and scholarship application processes, and as the months following my application went by, I realized that JCU is where I wanted to be.

Rian Ignasiak

Rian Ignasiak

What made you decide to major in International Affairs?
My initial interest in International Affairs came from my love of languages and cultural exchange that I had discovered during high school. I chose this major because there are many career opportunities in the field that I would love to pursue. I’m mostly interested in working for NGOs or governmental organizations promoting peaceful international relations and environmental conservation.

What’s it like to study at JCU and in Rome?
University life at JCU is very immersive, so making friends and establishing oneself in the city is not difficult. As a result, feelings of homesickness and culture shock that typically come with living abroad aren’t as prevalent, at least in my experience. The international atmosphere makes for a smooth transition and a comfortable academic experience, though students who are more interested in Italian culture may need to seek social settings outside of university life.

You were awarded the Global Explorer Scholarship. What advice would you give to future students who are looking for similar opportunities?
Prioritize your goals, be intentional with your time and energy, and be kind to yourself! Try not to think of the application process as proving or “selling” yourself to the university but rather as a chance to reflect on the past few years of your academic and personal life. I think there’s a lot of pressure that we put on ourselves in situations like these, but it’s very important to be patient with yourself and remember that you are valuable and talented no matter the outcome.

What are your plans for the future?
I would like to work for an NGO dealing with environmentalism or conservation. Caring for the earth is my passion and someday I hope to build a career doing so. I still have three years of college ahead of me, and I expect many new ideas and aspirations will come to me in that time. For the moment, I’m focused on succeeding in school and enjoying my life as it is now!