John Cigliano, Ph.D.
The Cedar Crest College Board of Trustees promoted John Cigliano to professor of biology. He was honored with other faculty members in a ceremony on April 18, 2013.
Changing the World, and Cedar Crest Students,
One Study Abroad Experience at a Time
Thank you madame provost and madame president, trustee Stoudt, honored guests, and fellow honorees.
Before I begin, I would like to start by thanking my students. It’s there excitement in learning that is the reason I look so forward to coming to campus each day.
I would also like to thank my family: my wife Karen and my daughters Marisa and Olivia - for their love and support, especially for allowing their crazy husband and father to chase conch and octopuses in places such as Belize, Turks & Caicos Islands, The Bahamas, and Costa Rica.
And if that wasn’t enough, they have supported me while I tromped through rainforests, savannas, and cloud forests or snorkeled mangroves and coral reefs with students in these places and also Guyana, Peru and Ecuador.
I bring these up because I want to talk about something that we do so well here at Cedar Crest and, that I believe, is so vital to our mission and, most importantly, for the education and growth of our students: study abroad.
But before I do, I want to explain the title of my talk: Changing the world, and Cedar Crest Students, one study abroad experience at a time. This comes from a sentence from President Ambar’s inauguration address: Changing the world one Cedar Crest student at a time.
My revision of that statement reflects the fact that it’s not just the world we are changing when we send our students abroad as part of our commitment to the broad principle of global connectivity, but also the students themselves.
I can draw on any one of the study abroad experiences that I have been part of to provide examples but I will draw up the most recent: the LLC trip to Costa Rica.
There I saw students grow in confidence and as a person in one short week, as they worked with developmentally challenged children and adults, as CREATE, the art LLC, did at a community center in Heredia.
Or when our students worked side by side with local social workers and physicians, helping at risk teenagers, as students in CARE, the global social justice LLC did
Or as our students helped revitalize a local school’s forest that is used as part of an amazing environmental stewardship program, as students in my LLC, EARTH, did.
It was so evident how important was the help our students provided and how grateful the Ticas and Ticos were who we helped and interacted with. I believe that our impact will be felt there for along time.
But I also saw our students grow because they pushed beyond their comfort zones: when they got on a plane for the first time, or as they overcame their concerns about staying with a unfamiliar family in an unknown country, or when they went on their first ever hike, which happened to be through thigh deep-mud, at 2000 m through a thick cloud forest, or when they over came their fear of heights when we went zip lining through the canopy of a cloud forest. A fear so strong that tears were streaming down some faces as they were hooked up to the zip line. But they went. And when they were done with the first segment, they couldn’t wait to start the second.
And I also saw students who started the trip with a vague idea of what they wanted for their future come back with knowing with certainty what they want: whether it is to go into naturopathic medicine because of our trip to a farm that grew plants used in traditional medicine or the realization of another student that she should be a Global Studies major because of the totality of her experience.
As we looked to the future of Cedar Crest, I hope we continue to develop our study abroad program, and other global connectivity initiatives. It is so vital to our mission and to our students.
In closing, I would like to again thank my students and my family, and President Ambar and Provost Meade for their support, and Dr. Jenny Weatherford, Director of Global Initiatives and International Programs, for her leadership in the development of global connectivity at Cedar Crest College.
We can change the world, and Cedar Crest students, one study abroad experience at a time.
But wait, there's more...