Every fall semester, up to three exceptional incoming students are awarded the Global Explorer Scholarship, a prestigious and competitive full tuition scholarship. This fall, John Cabot University is delighted to bestow this award upon Rian Ignasiak, an incoming International Affairs major from Rockford, Michigan. Read on to hear how Rian’s dream of studying in Rome became a reality.
I find that the most extraordinary things in life come to me on a whim, unexpectedly, taking root in lackluster places and snowballing into something remarkable. My path hasn’t turned out to be one I anticipated taking, but the most phenomenal events, at least in my experience, are the ones we never plan on being a part of.
On August 8, 2019, I boarded a plane departing from Grand Rapids, Michigan, with two suitcases and a heart set ablaze with dreams. I was headed for Chile in pursuit of magnificence, the notion of which had struck me approximately nine months beforehand, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I simply must chase it. The initial transition from Rockford to Temuco was peculiarly straightforward, but I didn’t know then the magnitude of change my life would face in that year to come.
In the following six months, I found myself uprooted from the life I’d built in Temuco, Chile, and reassigned to a district in Peru, where my living arrangements were frequently shifting, and I never stayed in one city long enough to make connections. With an excess of time and solitude on my hands, a thought came to me that hadn’t passed through my mind in quite awhile.
At this point, January 2020, I had applied and been accepted to just one college. I wasn’t incredibly interested in going anywhere else, so once I received my acceptance letter, I figured my future was settled for at least another four years. However, as I got ready to spend another day in my temporary Lima apartment, I remembered the captivating, sun-soaked campus of a university whose website I’d stumbled across the year before and had carried in the back of my mind ever since.
John Cabot University was merely a fantasy from the day I found it, something so blatantly unrealistic for me that I didn’t dare apply. That, however, didn’t stop me from daydreaming about my life there in Rome. Every so often, I’d imagine myself walking through the streets of Trastevere, hurrying to my favorite class. I’d see myself swinging open the window in my apartment and starting dinner. I’d see myself thumbing through a book in the piazza and discussing class material with my peers and grabbing coffee with my friends, but then I’d snap out of it to find myself sitting in the car or a classroom or at my own dinner table in Michigan. Despite my original decision to attend an in-state university, I always suspected I had a life waiting to happen in Rome.
Alone in Lima and without much else to do, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give myself a chance. I applied to JCU just to see what would happen. I was fully aware of the fact that there’d be many hoops to jump through in order to get to Rome. However, I also knew I’d never stop revisiting those dreams of Trastevere, and I’d likely never forgive myself for not even attempting to get there. So I applied to John Cabot University, and I implored the universe to give me a hand.
Nearly six months have passed since that day, and I am deeply grateful to have received the Global Explorer Scholarship, which has transformed my unattainable dream of studying at JCU into something that is, in fact, attainable. Were it not for the tumultuous nature of my senior year abroad, my dream of studying in Rome would have presumably remained just that: a dream.
I am elated to begin my studies at JCU this fall, and the uncertainty of our world does not unnerve or discourage me: as always, the future is full of extraordinary things just waiting to sweep us off of our feet.
Class of 2024
International Affairs Major
Hometown: Rockford, Michigan