Meet Our Fall 2018 Scholarship Recipients
July 25, 2018

Each semester, SAI carefully selects a group of student bloggers.  These students are to write about their experiences abroad by producing blogs and contributing to our social media.  
Below is the list of our Spring 2019 student bloggers.  You can check out their blog posts throughout their time abroad.  

Jordan Benda, Paris
Home school: Baylor University

  1. Rock climbing/bouldering and snow boarding are some of my favorite ways to stay active.
  2. I have the best job ever as a counselor at a Christian sports camp called Kanakuk.
  3. Living in Paris has been a dream of mine since I was 7, and had my room adorned with Eiffel Towers and French words.
  4. I hate coffee, but love kombucha.
  5. Being a Reading Buddy for two 1st graders was one of the highlights of this past school year.
  6. I have mottephobia (an extreme fear of moths). No joke.
  7. My favorite author is Bob Goff, who wrote Love Does and Everybody Always.
  8. Movies fascinate me and my favorite genres are horror, documentaries, and romantic comedies.
  9. I have a tattoo that says “Daughter of the King” in Hebrew.
  10. I am from Colorado and love the outdoors!

Piera Bernhard, Florence
Home school:Sierra Nevada College

  1. I am an interdisciplinary Fine Arts major preparing for my senior thesis show in Spring 2019.
  2. I currently live at Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The landscape reminds me of the Alps in Northern Italy.
  3. I lived on my own in Germany for two years between the ages 19-21.
  4. While I was there, I spent a month traveling by bike from Southern Germany to Venice, Italy and back through Austria.
  5. I began traveling internationally at a very young age, as my mother is originally from Scotland.
  6. I absolutely love rock climbing and plan to make friends to climb with in Italy.
  7. I make short films with original music to accompany. A couple of my films have screened in galleries and museums.
  8. I was a scenic painter for theater sets in Berkeley, California.
  9. I have seen a mountain lion cross the road just feet ahead of me.
  10. I am collecting art, photography, and poetry from friends and fellow artists for an on-going project called Stone’s Throw Away. I look forward to all of the connections yet to come!

Katie Carrillo, Florence
Home school: Clemson University

  1. My parents are from Guatemala, I was born in New Jersey, but I’ve spent most of my life in South Carolina.
  2. I did colorguard and winterguard for about 3 1/2 years in high school! I absolutely loved it! (My favorite piece of equipment was saber.)
  3. I go to school at Clemson University in Clemson, SC. (go tigers)
  4. My goal is to become a costume designer for regional theatres. I’ve already gotten a few jobs in costume shops at regional theatres, so I think I’m on my way!
  5. My favorite art medium is watercolor paint!
  6. I’ve never had any musical training, but I love music and singing for fun! Maybe one day I’ll take lessons.
  7. I’m trying to pick up boxing. It’s definitely hard, but the boxing gym that I’ve been going to is great!
  8. I have a love of cartoons. I’m currently very into Steven Universe.
  9. I love thrift shopping. Half for buying clothes and half for looking at vintage pieces and imagining them in period plays.
  10. One of my dreams is to retire out into the country and have a small farm with many goats and plants.

Holly Downing, Rome
Home school:Suffolk University

  1. I am an only child.
  2. My favorite sport is lacrosse.
  3. I lived in a town in Vermont with a population of around 1,000 for 12 years.
  4. I have never been to Europe (besides now!)
  5. One thing on my bucket list is to go to Tomorrowland.
  6. My favorite food is cereal.
  7. One place I want to visit is Japan.
  8. One hobby of mine is photography.
  9. I love boating in the summer.
  10. I’m always moving and wanting to go somewhere new.

Allan Gaus, Florence
Home school: Indiana University of Pennsylvania

  1. I have been to 48 states in the United States.
  2. I am an Eagle Scout.
  3. I co-host a radio show.
  4. I work as a curator of an art museum.
  5. I love insects and birds.
  6. I have spoken to a ghost.
  7. I am the tallest member of family tree.
  8. I only eat plants.
  9. I am very lucky and am known for it.
  10. I lost a tooth by being hit with a bowling ball.

Camille Gear, Florence
Home school:University of Tennessee

  1. I’m from Franklin, Tennessee.
  2. I’ve never had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
  3. I’m a journalism major hoping to one day work for ESPN as a sports reporter.
  4. I have a Bichon Frisée named Snowball.
  5. I have two younger siblings Duke and Juliet.
  6. My first ride at Disney World was in an ambulance.
  7. I’ve known I’ve wanted to go to the University of Tennessee since I was 5 years old.
  8. I used to compete in beauty pageants.
  9. I was Vice President of Scholarship for Sigma Kappa sorority.
  10. I played soccer for 15 years.

Daisy Getz, Florence
Home school:George Washington University

  1. Yes, my favorite flower is a daisy.
  2. My middle name is Alberta, after my great-grandmother.
  3. I went on a solo road trip around Canada for two weeks after freshman year of college.
  4. I am obsessed with elephants and have an extensive elephant figurine collection.
  5. When I was one I lived on a farm with two dogs, two cats, lots of chickens, and neighboring donkeys; our house was three miles away from paved roads and street lamps.
  6. When I was five I acted out every scene in Annie and made my mom be Grace, my dad be Daddy Warbucks, and my golden retriever be Sandy. My brother was too busy reading, but he couldn’t have pulled off Miss Hannigan anyway (he’s seven years older, but we’re super close).
  7. I was bitten by a dog when I was ten and I still have the scar on my lip.
  8. I began acting when I was six and have been a part of almost forty musical productions.
  9. Ruth Bader Ginsburg came to an opera that I was ushering and she is so short.
  10. My dad is in a rock band with my uncle and it’s so much cooler than what you’re picturing right now.

Nicole Haarstad, Rome 
Home school:Minnesota State University, Mankato

  1. I’m a Business Management major and I will get my degree after this semester abroad.
  2. So far, I’ve travelled to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Spain, and South Africa.
  3. My trip to South Africa just took place in May. It was a 3-week study abroad/volunteer trip through school.
  4. I was born and raised in Minnesota, yet I’ve never been to Canada.
  5. I love to dance. I started dancing in a studio when I was only 3 years old and joined my school’s dance team my sophomore year of high school.
  6. I absolutely love horses.
  7. I love finding new local restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques whenever I visit a new town.
  8. I bungee jumped off the highest bridge in the world when I was in South Africa.
  9. Going to country music festivals is one of my favorite summertime activities.
  10. I love to travel. I hope to visit as many countries as possible and visit all 50 states.

Alyssa Higley, Rome
Home school:St. Norbert College

  1. I am studying psychology and communications at St. Norbert College.
  2. I love being involved in musical theatre whenever I can, both during the academic year with my theatre group at SNC and in the summer with community groups.
  3. I am a HUGE snacker (especially while studying!)
  4. I firmly believe that breakfast food can be eaten for any meal of the day.
  5. One of my favorite involvements at SNC is being a part of Zambia Project, a student organization that supports education for children in Zambia and sends students to the country every few years.
  6. I am a tour guide at SNC.
  7. I absolutely love reading anything I can get my hands on, and wish I had more time to do it!
  8. Fortunately or unfortunately, most of my sense of humor is in the form of puns and dad jokes.
  9. I love spending time with family and friends, as well as meeting new people and hearing their stories!
  10. Studying abroad in Rome will be my first time out of the country, so it’s even more exciting!

Michael Houlihan, Rome
Home school:St. Norbert College

  1. My favorite book is The Great Gatsby. I can basically recite it by heart.
  2. love coffee… maybe a bit too much.
  3. My favorite word is petrichor (followed closely by vellichor).
  4. I can speak French.
  5. I’ve lived in Chicago my entire life and I may be bias but I think it’s one of the greatest places in the US (if not the world).
  6. I love fashion so I’m super excited to be in one of the world’s fashion capitals!
  7. I have two dogs named Sox and Jax (The x’s were coincidental).
  8. The last time I was in Europe, I went to Berlin and accidentally left the city via train with my cousin who was studying there at the time.
  9. This will be my second time in Rome.
  10. I want visit Verona while I’m abroad solely because my favorite Shakespeare play took place there (I’m sure after I visit I will have other reasons to like it)

Elise Maglione, Florence
Home school:Winthrop University

  1. Chance the Rapper is my absolute favorite artist of all time, one time I got a concussion from jamming out to his music too hard.
  2. The one food I could eat for every meal for the rest of my life is raspberries.
  3. I work with adults with special needs making ceramics and I’m positive I have the best job in the world.
  4. I love anything Lilly Pulitzer, but my bank account definitely does not.
  5. I did competitive dance for 14 years and taught classes for 4 of those years
  6. I’m the outgoing community relations chair in my sorority, Delta Zeta
  7. DisneyWorld is my favorite place in the world to be.
  8. I’m a junior double majoring in Social Work and Sociolog
  9. I’m a Taco Bell addict
  10. I have 5 much older siblings, my oldest sister is 50.

Jessica O’Dell, Paris
Home school:Penn State University

  1. I moved from Pennsylvania to Florida when I was ten years old, and have lived in the Sunshine State ever since!
  2. am a current sophomore in Penn State University’s Honors College, where I am majoring in Computer Science.
  3. I love learning about space and the universe, and actually started out as an Astronomy and Astrophysics major.
  4. I was a part of the team that built NASA’s Water Recovery X-Ray Rocket, which launched earlier this year.
  5. I hope to someday go to outer space (because, come on, how cool would that be?).
  6. Some of my hobbies include reading, making art of any kind, traveling (obviously), and going to the beach.
  7. I have an unhealthy obsession with mac and cheese.
  8. I was stung by a stingray when I was five years old and I’m still angry about it.
  9. I have two dogs that I love with all of my heart, and wish I could adopt every dog ever.
  10. I believe that one of the most fulfilling experiences anyone can ever have is to travel and learn more about the world outside their front door.

Samantha Sanders, Florence 
Home school:Grand Valley State University

  1. I’m from Michigan.
  2. I’m a junior studying Hospitality and Tourism Management.
  3. I am the middle cild with two older brothers and two younger sisters.
  4. I like doing yoga and lifting weights.
  5. I could live off of ice cream.
  6. I love plants but suck at keeping them alive.
  7. I have Friends, Parks and Recreation, and New Girl and the Office on rotation.
  8. I have 9 piercings and 2 tattoos.
  9. I love my planner and colored pens.
  10.  Studying abroad is my second time leaving the U.S. and I’m so excited for it!

Gabriel Treider, Barcelona
Home school: Colorado State University

  1. My grandparents immigrated to the United States from Colombia.
  2. I am from Grand Junction, Colorado (The Capital of the West)
  3. In high school my friends and I ran a non-profit called Play Back Sports.
  4. I love to hike, fish, and ski.
  5. I played baseball for 18 years and I continue to play tennis.
  6. I have traveled out of the country to Colombia, Canada, Ecuador, and Mexico.
  7. I am studying Economics and minoring in Philosophy at Colorado State University.
  8. I have two awesome parents and a lovely younger sister.
  9. I am a member of the Tau Sigma National Honor Society.
  10. I was the head coach of a fifth grade basketball team.

Noelle Westel, Florence
Home school: Belmont University

  1. I’m a Lifeguard.
  2. I go by my middle name (Noelle)
  3. I’ve only been out of the U.S. one other time, and that was to Cuba.
  4. The choir I was in for 4 years is on Chance the Rapper’s “Coloring Book” Album.
  5. I love to bake.
  6. My favorite sports team is the Chicago Blackhawks.
  7. In elementary school I chipped my two front teeth on a scooter in gym class.
  8. I’d love to be a comedy writer for “Saturday Night Live”
  9. I work in an ice cream store, and am very excited to try Italian gelato!
  10. I like to go hiking.

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