OSWEGO — An alumnus who was the first in his family to have a passport and had his life changed by a study abroad experience through SUNY Oswego has made a generous gift to the college to pass on the opportunity of international experience to current and future students.
John Christian of the class of 1987, president and chief executive officer of CAPA International Education, and CAPA have pledged nearly $200,000 over three years to foster international education at SUNY Oswego.
“Ever since our founding more than 150 years ago, one of the hallmarks of an Oswego education has been the passion of our students, faculty and alumni for global engagement,” said Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley at a recognition ceremony in honor of Christian and CAPA on Monday. “Through this extremely generous gift, John Christian and CAPA pass on to future students the transformative cultural experience he enjoyed through his education at Oswego. We are profoundly grateful.”
Christian shared his own story including humble roots in Troy and a life-changing experience at Oswego.
“Study abroad doesn’t just have an impact, but can truly transform lives,” Christian told the students, faculty and staff gathered in the Hearth Lounge of the Campus Center. He noted that upon returning from his initial study abroad experience in London, “I had learned to appreciate learning, I learned about the world and my place in it, and I found something I had a passion for.”
Christian’s experiences both as a study abroad student and his work with Oswego’s international education program under Dr. José Ramon Pérez would form the basis of his life’s work.
“The world is an amazing teacher,” Christian said. “All you have to do is listen.”
Christian praised the college’s global engagement and dedication to making it a prominent part of the academic experience.
“[As] I learn about the global engagement, the diversity of the faculty, the programs you have and the opportunities afforded to the Oswego student and faculty community, it’s really impressive,” Christian said. “I’ve been in this field for 23 years and I’ve worked with a multitude of institutions that are looking to do similar things.”
“The global thinker is on all of our agendas, the global doer is the Oswego agenda,” he added.
A gift by Christian and CAPA of $100,000 over three years will support the Presidents’ International Initiatives, which will create opportunities for Oswego students, faculty and staff to infuse a global dimension into the teaching, learning and service mission of the college.
A separate gift will fund the José Ramon Pérez International Scholarship, which will provide two full need-based scholarships for learning abroad opportunities for Oswego students – one to the CAPA London Program and one to the Beijing semester program – each year for three years.
A total of six students will travel abroad under the scholarship during the grant period.
Present at the ceremony were the winners of the Pérez Scholarship: Lindsay King will travel to Beijing and Megan Haufe received a scholarship to study in London.
As part of the visit, Michael Woolf, CAPA’s deputy president for strategic initiatives, spoke on “International Education and Higher Education: A Complex Affair” to launch the Institute for Global Engagement Speakers Series.