SAI
Meet our Fall 2016 Scholarship Recipients
August 15, 2016

Since our beginning SAI has provided more than $2 million in financial assistance to students. We are pleased to offer scholarships to deserving students each academic year, generously funded by the International Education Foundation, host universities, and by SAI itself. Many SAI scholarships are paired with volunteering, interning, or professional experience, granting students more opportunities to become involved in the local or study abroad community.

Below are our Fall 2016 scholarship recipients, many of whom will also be submitting blog posts throughout their time abroad. 

JESSICA VASS, Florence
Home School: Georgia State University

Jessica V - Fall 2016 Blogger

  1. I have a twin! My fraternal twins’ name is Jacob.
  2. Picnics and hikes are my jam… and both on one adventure is the ultimate day.
  3. I can do a headstand and several other crazy yoga poses!
  4. Film photography is my passion. I love the fact that photography becomes a hands-on art process with film. Rolling, developing, and printing film allows me to create a personal connection to my art.
  5. Crazy Cat Lady? That’s me!
  6. I make jewelry using metals like silver, copper, and brass.
  7. Italy will be the 10th country I have visited outside of the United States. My goal is to travel to all of the continents and never stop seeking new cultural experiences.
  8. Even though about half of my family is British, I don’t like tea. Oh, and I have never had a Coca-Cola!
  9. I have lived in Georgia my entire life and currently call Atlanta my home. The diversity and uniqueness to my city is amazing. (If you haven’t been, you should put ATL on your list of places to visit.)
  10. I make lists for about everything: to-dos, pros and cons, wish lists, favorite blogs and songs, my role models… everything.

MARIA HERNANDEZ, Rome
Home School: Saint Mary’s College of California

Maria H

  1. I am double majoring in Sociology and Ethnic Studies with hopes of one day working in the non-profit sector advocating for Latin@ families.
  2. I love to sing; I have been in church and/or school choir most of my life.
  3. I love to dance, especially Latin@ music and Ballet Folklorico.
  4. I am a proud Mexican American who enjoys learning about her roots through Mexican literature, black and white Pedro Infante films, and much more.
  5. I am grateful to be a part of Ballet Folklorico Guadalupano, a Mexican folkdancing group at my school, Saint Mary’s. Shout out to my BFG family!
  6. It has been my dream to visit the Vatican ever since I was little, and now that spiritual pilgrimage will come true for me!
  7. I love listening to all kinds of music of all different languages, especially Italian and Spanish music.
  8. I am a first generation college student, meaning I am the first in my family to attend an institution of higher education in the U.S., and therefore the first in my family to study abroad so this opportunity is really exciting for us!
  9. I am passionate about immigrant rights, access to good quality education for everyone including higher education, and increased opportunities for people of different abilities.
  10. I am the oldest sibling to two brothers who are in high school and middle school.

SOLOMON MERCURIO, Barcelona
Home School: Rochester Institute of Technology

Solomon M - Fall 2016 Blogger

  1. I caught the travel bug from my parents by the age of 10.
  2. I have a huge passion for photography.
  3. I love to learn about new forms of media, design, and technology.
  4. I have a junior black belt in American Kenpo Karate.
  5. While traveling, one of my favorite things to do is make friends with locals. They always know the best places to visit and eat.
  6. I’m originally from Boston, MA.
  7. My home institution is the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York.
  8. This summer (2016) I am interning in the New York City area at JetBlue Airways.
  9. I grew up going back and forth between two homes. In the long run, this led me to be very good at packing for backpacking trips. I know how to pack just the necessities.
  10. Trying new foods is something I’m always interested in.

JAZMINE PARRA, Rome
Home School: Saint Mary’s College of California

Jazmine P - Fall 2016 Blogger

  1. I attend Saint Mary’s College.
  2. I have two younger brothers.
  3. I wrestled in middle school.
  4. I have lived in California my entire life.
  5. I’ve tattooed myself.
  6. Soccer is my favorite sport.
  7. I’m lowkey afraid of cats.
  8. I love weightlifting.
  9. I’m allergic to grass.
  10. I like to draw.

NICOLE PEXA, Rome
Home School: Gustavus Adolphus College

Nicole P - Fall 2016 Blogger

  1. I am from Minnesota and always strive to be “Minnesota Nice.”
  2. I absolutely love math (really!) and helping others understand it.
  3. I used to work at Subway as a Sandwich Artist when I was in high school.
  4. Rollerblading is one of my favorite things to do.
  5. Last summer I was able to travel to Victoria, BC and it has become one of my favorite cities to visit. I can’t wait to add more places to that list this semester!
  6. I have never broken a bone before (knock on wood).
  7. Even though I’m a terrible singer, whenever I hear an Adele song I have to sing along.
  8. I am a morning person.
  9. I drive a 1998 red Volkswagen Beetle and think it’s hilarious when I see people play “Slug Bug” as I drive by.
  10. I could eat pizza every day for the rest of my life.

BROOKE KEY, Florence
Home School: University of Alabama

Brooke K

  1. I am an Alabama girl born and raised in Wetumpka Alabama.  I was blessed with the opportunity to go to the best school in the nation (non biased of course) The University of Alabama! I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences where I studied hospitality management with a concentration in restaurant, food, and beverage.
  2. I graduated summa cum laude from UA! I was so excited to graduate with a 4.0, not only because it mean all the sleepless coffee dependent nights were not for nothing, but at UA graduation all 4.0 graduates get to wear a red cap to help honor the accomplishment. I, of course, decorated my red cap and wore it proudly for graduation… I guess I’ve always kind of liked glitter and standing out in a crowd!
  3. I was in Color Guard for 6 years before attending UA! It’s been a while since I have performed but I still remember the rush of performing while dancing and spinning a flag! And don’t forget the glitter eye shadow!
  4. I also absolutely love the fall! Yes, part of this is because of SEC football {sorry other conferences please keep reading}, but it’s also because along with fall comes deer hunting season for us Alabamians! Unfortunately, I realize I will miss part of hunting season this year because I will be in Italy (you know what, I think it’s a fair trade) but I will make it back in time for the last month of hunting season. Hunting and sitting in a tree stand is not the only thing I love to do in a tree… I also love stringing my hammock up and just hanging around for a few hours. There is just something about being weightless in the air with a good book and nature that is incredibly therapeutic!
  5. I always enjoy a good adventure which is one of the reasons I decided studying in Italy was my next step. I find that adventures can be renewing as they get you out of your everyday routine and many times give your mind a break from the stress of everyday life.
  6. I probably watch way too much TV and movies, especially Gilmore Girls and Disney. I am prone to breaking into Disney song without warning and slip in tv quotes in normal conversation. Sorry if you have a problem with that please just “Let It Go”.
  7. I’m a big fan of dancing. Even if I’m not the best dancer I just love dancing around and even while cooking I have been known to turn the kitchen into my personal dance floor! While I love all kinds of dance I have to admit that line dancing is my favorite when out and about.
  8. Based on what you know so far about me you can probably guess that I love food! Well I am also mildly  obsessed with coffee, and by that I mean “I only like coffee with my oxygen”. I worked as a barista for Nehemiah’s Coffee house while in college and loved it because it allowed me to learn more about my obsession love of coffee!
  9. I have been baking for a pretty long time now… and by long I mean I was basically raised on my parents kitchen counter! Which I think is why one of my favorite things about baking is getting to share it with others! Ultimately I want to share my love and passion of baking with as many as people as possible by opening my own bakery! While this goal is still a few years away I am excitedly starting to make steps to accomplish this goal and “bake” my dreams come true.
  10. Well, I am about to wrap this up but the last point about me is probably the most essential thing to who I am, which is before anything else, that I am a child of God! I have loved the opportunities God has provided in my life and one of which is the opportunity to attend this program! I have accomplished many things in my 22 years however; I know that none of it would be possible without God, so I am excited to see what he has in store for this next step in life!

ESPERANZA SIERRA, Florence
Home School: College of Charleston

Esperanza S - Fall 2016 Blogger

  1. I love to travel.
  2. I was born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
  3. I speak 3 different languages which are English, Spanish, and French.
  4. I love to play tennis.
  5. I am of Mexican heritage.
  6. My future goal is to work with International Adoption Agencies.
  7. I am a member of the Delta Gamma Sorority.
  8. I attend the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina.
  9. I like to draw and paint.

HANNAH LATHAM, Florence
Home School: Carthage College

Hannah L - Fall 2016 Blogger

  1. I am majoring in neuroscience and minoring in biology and psychology.
  2. I have (self-diagnosed) misophonia–I can’t stand hearing people chew.
  3. I lived in Italy for 3 months when I was little with my family for my dads job! We stayed in Siderno and Tropea.
  4. I am obsessed with my dog. Her name is Lily.
  5. I love ice cream. Michigan Deer Trax is my favorite flavor!
  6. Upon graduation, my dream is to go to medical school to become a neurologist.
  7. I love going hammocking on the beaches of Lake Michigan with my friends back home!
  8. I tend to have a delayed laugh to jokes and my friends make fun of me for it, which makes me laugh harder.
  9. My favorite quote is “if your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough”.
  10. I absolutely love music. I played the French Horn in middle and high school and look forward to learning how to play the piano as one of my classes at FUA!!

EMILY DESISTO, Florence
Home School: Lasell College

Emily D - Fall 2016 Blogger

  1. I’ve lived in Maine my whole life.
  2. I have a camp on an island.
  3. I use to be a synchronized figure skater.
  4. I’ve been in four fashion shows.
  5. I am very environmentally conscious.
  6. I once had 24 animals.
  7. I live near the beach.
  8. I like to snowboard and ski.
  9. I’ve won multiple frog jumping contest.
  10. I love to travel.

CLAIR TILLOTSON, Milan
Home School: Colorado State University

Claire T - Fall 16 Blogger

  1. I am originally from San Diego but have lived in Colorado for 10 years.
  2. I am double majoring in Journalism and Media Communications as well as Communication Studies.
  3. I love to Snowboard.
  4. I am outgoing.
  5. I love to cook and try new and exotic foods.
  6. I enjoy clothing and fashion.
  7. If I could spent forever traveling and trying new things (experiences, cultures, food, etc.) I would do it in a heart beat.
  8. I love spending time with my family and pets ( I have a pembroke welsh corgi and a grey fluffy cat).
  9. I find a lot of cute animal videos on the internet.
  10. I love music and going to concerts.

CAROLINA GUTIERREZ, Paris
Home School: Baylor University

carolina G - Fall 2016 Blogger

  1. I was born in Mexico and I moved to the United States when I was 15 (I loved it).
  2. I am a Pre-Law student at Baylor University.
  3. I love dogs. I have a Shih Tzu named Carlota.  
  4. I love art, drawing, and painting. Especially oil painting.
  5. My favorite book is “A Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  6. My favorite movies are “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” and “Spirited Away.”
  7. I strongly believe there is nothing a good cup of coffee can’t solve.
  8. I love long walks and long conversations (I am known for talking too much).
  9. Binge-watching TV shows is my guilty pleasure.
  10. Finally, I love meeting new places and new people.

NATHAN WOODWARD, Milan
Home School: San Francisco Art Institute

Nathan W - Fall 2016 Blogger

  1. I love to make music.
  2. I can speak to crowds.
  3. I can tell a story.
  4. Or build a home up from the ground.
  5. I teach kids art.
  6. And I can teach dogs.
  7. I love to cook.
  8. But my poetry’s a little off.
  9. I have tattoos, but you’ll never see them
  10. They say family first.

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About SAI

SAI Programs is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.