Well-Traveled Cadets Tout Study Abroad at National Conference

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Seniors Daniel Stevens (left) and Andres Morana gained cultural awareness and language skills by studying abroad.
Seniors Daniel Stevens (left) and Andres Morana gained cultural awareness and language skills by studying abroad.

The U.S. military makes international competence a priority, and two members of the Virginia Tech Army ROTC and Corps of Cadets have embraced the new emphasis.

Andres Morana of Aldie, Virginia, and Daniel Stevens of Yorktown, Virginia, are both seniors majoring in international studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Stevens also majors in Russian.

The two have studied abroad in number of countries, including Morocco, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Russia, Latvia, Jordan, and Oman. They spent the fall semester in France, after the Paris terrorist attacks.

“There’s a perception that studying abroad isn’t possible for cadets, but it is,” Stevens said. “We were able to make it work with our schedules. It does take some extra work and planning, but it’s possible.”

Morana and Stevens participate in Department of Defense–funded programs to develop cultural awareness and foreign-language skills in future leaders.

Earlier this month, they presented at The Forum on Education Abroad’s annual conference in Atlanta as the only student representatives on a panel about study abroad and military preparedness.

“In the Army, having critical language capabilities is a huge advantage,” Morana said.

Project GO, an initiative of the Defense Language and National Security Education Office, provides scholarships to ROTC students in the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force.

“With the Project GO programs, we had a combination of intensive language coursework paired with cultural field trips and, in some cases, homestays or language partners,” Stevens said.

“Presenting at a major national conference is a great experience for these students,” said Theresa Johansson, director of the Global Education Office at Virginia Tech. “It’s also a wonderful showcase for Virginia Tech’s commitment to preparing our cadets for engagement at the global level.”

Along with the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, the Global Education Office helped pay for the students’ trip to Atlanta. After graduation, Morana and Stevens will commission as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.

The Global Education Office, a unit of Outreach and International Affairs, promotes Virginia Tech’s study abroad portfolio and supports faculty in the development of programs that bring international elements into the curriculum.

Written by Keith Pierce, with contributions by Rommelyn Conde Coffren