RCAH alumnus and student win awards in annual Office of Study Abroad essay contest

November 30, 2015

On Friday, November 13, 2015, RCAH alumnus John Nowak and current student Jackie Guzman were honored with first and second place awards at the annual Michigan State University Office of Study Abroad essay contest reception.

John Nowak, RCAH alumnus from the class of 2015, won first place and $1,000 with an essay titled, "A Universal Language." In the summer months of 2015, Nowak took part in the Spanish Language, Literature and Culture in Santander study abroad program. His award-winning piece reflects on the relationship he forged with the Groovin’ Beards, a band based in Santander.

Nowak writes:

"The community took me in — a random, bearded American college student — and treated me like one of their own local musicians. Having played in the Lansing and Grand Rapids local music scenes for my entire life, it felt surreal to be inserted and welcomed into a similar community in a foreign country. My experience is a perfect example of how music can bring people together and how it can connect people of all kinds all over the world. We had some conversations in Spanish, we had some conversations in English, but once the music started, we communicated purely through feeling, expression, and creativity."

Read John Nowak's full essay here.



Guzman, current RCAH sophomore, won second place and $500 for her essay titled, "Thinking Green." From May to July 2015, Guzman traveled to Costa Rica for Ethics in Sustainable Development, the RCAH study abroad program led by associate professor Scot Yoder and assistant dean for civic engagement Vincent Delgado.

Guzman reflects:

"During my two months in Costa Rica this past summer, I learned that environmentally responsible living is not only possible, but really not that difficult to achieve. Instead of simply worrying about current consumption, we should think about ways of giving back and helping others. We should support our families, friends, and local communities in every way that we can. Most importantly, we should think about how our actions today will affect the world of tomorrow."

Read Jackie Guzman's full essay here.


About the essay contest:

MSU is proud to have one of the nation's largest study abroad programs - one that spans the world and helps to build international understanding through education. The annual Essay Contest aims to capture the essence of study abroad by encouraging students to reflect and write creatively about the unique living and learning experiences that study abroad provides.

Current MSU undergraduate or undergraduate students who have participated in study abroad are eligible, and entries are limited to four pages in length.