Global Explorer Scholarship Recipients: Meet Student Stephanie Haigis

Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, to a German mother and an American father, Stephanie Haigis is a History major and one of the recipients of the Global Explorer Scholarship.

Stephanie Haigis

Stephanie Haigis

Tell us about your background.
I was born and grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, in the U.S., but my mother and I would travel almost every summer to visit our family in Germany, so I was able to maintain a connection with both parts of my cultural identity. I grew up in a single-parent, low-income household, which was not easy. But despite not having access to the best educational opportunities and not having anyone at home who could help me with my academics, I always had the motivation to work hard in school with the hope of a brighter future.

In the summer of 2016, I visited Rome while on vacation with my mother. When applying to universities during my senior year of high school, I realized that I wanted to pursue an education outside of the U.S. I wanted to attend university in a new environment where I could experience and learn a new culture. One day, I stumbled across an online advertisement for JCU, and the next thing I knew I was submitting my application.

What made you decide to major in History?
From elementary to high school, history was always my favorite subject, the one I was most interested in, and I wanted to continue exploring it in a university setting. I decided to apply to JCU and I told myself that if I was accepted, this was my chance to study what I wanted in a new environment.

What’s it like to study at JCU and in Rome?
Studying at JCU in Rome has been a wonderful and life-changing experience! The city has truly been my campus and has helped me enrich my mind and knowledge of Rome and its history. I have also been fortunate enough to travel around Italy and gain more appreciation for Italian culture. What I love most about studying at JCU is the classroom experience. With class sizes being much smaller than the average university, it has been easier to get to know and work with my professors and other students. JCU has provided a collaborative environment, which has been pivotal in helping me step out of my comfort zone and think outside the box. Also, each JCU student brings a unique experience and life perspective, and I have been able to learn and understand different viewpoints. Overall, studying at JCU has been an experience that I will never forget.

You were awarded the Global Explorer Scholarship. What advice would you give to future students who are looking for similar opportunities?
As cliché as this sounds, I would encourage others seeking similar opportunities to follow their heart when it comes to studying. It is important to base your education and later career upon genuine interests and goals, rather than following other people’s expectations of you. Hard work and determination do indeed pay off in the long run and if you want something and are willing to truly work for it, you will succeed. Set smart and achievable short-term goals to work towards long-term goals. It is important to apply for whatever programs and scholarships you can, especially if you require financial assistance. Do not underestimate or sell yourself short by not applying to scholarships that you might feel you are unqualified for. I applied for the Global Explorer Scholarship and did not know if I would even be considered for it. I would not have been able to study at JCU without this scholarship and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity and the much-needed financial support it has provided me.

What are your plans for the future?
While I cannot precisely envision where life will take me, I am determined to continue my studies and pursue my master’s degree in history. So far, my long-term goal for the future is to remain in Europe and eventually obtain a doctoral degree to become a history professor.