Honors Students Take in History, Culture in Italy

Picturedin front of the Fontana del Tritone (Triton Fountain), a 17th Centurey fountain in Rome created by sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Left to right are group leaders Garrett Roen and Keely Roen, with students Julia Test, Abbi Smith, Tyler Garthwaite, and Julie Shimmel. (Provided Photo).

DuBOIS – A group of four Penn State DuBois honors students had the opportunity of a lifetime at the end of this academic year, as they traveled to Italy to learn about the country’s history and culture. The campus honors program offers an international trip each year, affording students the chance to expand their education on a global level.

Students Abbi Smith, Julia Test, Tyler Garthwaite, and Julie Shimmel were led by husband and wife team Garrett and Keely Roen on this trip. Garrett is the campus registrar, and Keely a senior instructor in the Wildlife Technology program.  With both employed at the campus, they had a unique opportunity to travel and connect with students as they explored a new country.

“It was a great way for me to connect to our students,” Garrett said. “In my job, I deal with students, but only for a few minutes at a time. Here, I got to take students from rural Pennsylvania to another country to see things they’ve never experienced.”

Keely added, “I got to know students from other majors outside of the one I teach in, which was great.  And I’m so glad we could give them this experience. I went to France when I was 19, and it was life-changing for me. I hope this experience is the same for these students.”

Seizing every opportunity to learn about Italy’s traditions and history, the group took in daily tours of famous landmarks, as well as lesser-known locales that were off the beaten path. They saw the Vatican, the Roman Catacombs, Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, Tuscany, the Colosseum, and much more.

“It was a really immersive trip,” Keely said.  “We ate at local restaurants, interacted with local people, used public transportation, and did a lot of walking in cities, getting really close to the culture.”


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