The University of Dallas Rome Program has begun offering four St. Clare of Assisi scholarships as of summer 2015.
The deadline application for both this scholarship and for the program is Jan. 11, 2016. Students who apply by this deadline will receive a $500 discount on the Summer Rome program fees, which works out to be nearly 10 percent.
The St. Clare of Assisi scholarship is an academically competitive, need-based scholarship, according to Dr. Ronnie Rombs, director of the Summer Rome Program and associate professor of Theology.
“The awards range [is] based on financial need and academic competitiveness,” Rombs said. “Our ultimate goal is to make sure all students can go to Rome.”
Rombs said he considered St. Clare a perfect patron for the scholarship.
“There’s something amazingly peaceful about the city of Assisi,” Rombs said. “St. Clare was a Poor Clare. Our scholarship is need-based, so there’s a natural affinity. She’s a very luminous person with the light of God coming out from her. There’s a relationship between poverty and wisdom, close to UD’s charism. She just seemed like the perfect person.”
Scholarship winners for the 2015 program were four juniors: Lindsay Gendron, Simon Gonzalez, Rachel Johnson and Alfredo de Lira.
Gonzalez said that he originally chose the summer program because he wanted to add a drama concentration to his psychology major and couldn’t fit the classes in anywhere else.
Gonzalez also said that he really enjoyed the summer Rome semester, especially because of the class intimacy.
“Everyone became just like family,” Gonzalez said.
Rombs also emphasized the importance of small class sizes in the summer program and the closeness students feel as a result.
“Instead of 100 students, you have 30, so it’s a much more intimate experience,” Rombs said. “You don’t have any breaking up into small groups.”
Gendron said that the summer program was vital for her schedule as well, both for her academic commitments as a biology major and her athletic commitments as a basketball player.
“[It] went by really fast, with quick transitions to different places,” Gendron said.
She enjoyed her experiences in Rome, despite the fast-paced schedule.
She added that the free travel time and the close-knit group were two of her favorite facets of Rome.
Gendron and Gonzalez both stated that the St. Clare Scholarship played major parts in allowing them the financial freedom to participate in the program.
Rombs said that this year the summer program is adding a Greece trip, which will make the program seven weeks, rather than the normal six weeks, for students who wish to make the trip.
He also said that the summer program has begun to look more like the fall and spring semesters, though students are doing twice as much in half the time.
Rombs also said that the nice weather allows for excursions unique to the summer semester.
“I don’t know if you do this in the spring, but in the summer, on Sundays, they close down the entire Via Appia,” Rombs said. “So we walked all the way into Rome from campus — it’s about 10 km. We walked down to the catacombs and said Mass there on Sundays … The weather’s wonderful.”
One final unique aspect of the summer program is the number of non-UD students who participate.
Previous students have come from Ave Maria University, Benedictine College and Harvard University.
“Students have loved that,” Rombs said. “It’s fresh, they find.”
Finally, he said that students who have previously gone to Rome during the fall or spring semester are welcome back in the summer for what they call a “victory lap.” It seems that this summer program will continue to grow in popularity among UD students, especially because of this scholarship program.
“The summer Rome program is second-to-none to the authentic UD experience in Rome and Greece,” Rombs said. “Some see it as a consolation prize, but students are beginning to see advantages to going in the summer.”