BY MARY WICOFF
A Covington, Ind., man and a Danville woman will be hitting the books in a couple of exotic locations this semester.
Waylon B. Wright of Covington has been approved by Rotary International to study at Aaruhus Universitet in Denmark this year and next.
Ignatzia Romack, a junior at Illinois Wesleyan University, will attend Al Akhawayn University at Ifrane, Morocco, for a semester.
Both students, who have already left, are excited about the chance to learn about another culture and country. For Wright, 23, it will be his first time on an airplane, while Romack, 20, has been overseas before.
Year in Denmark
Wright, the son of John and Wendy Wright of Covington, is a graduate of Seeger Memorial High School.
“I’m very excited,” Wright said before he left. “I think it’s a great experience and I encourage others to seek the opportunity.”
Wright was selected to receive the Todd Endowed Ambassadorial Scholarship, and also received a tuition waiver from the university for the two-year master’s program in cognitive semiotics. Therefore, his Rotary scholarship will be applied toward his other expenses.
He is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Attica-Williamsport.
Housing is tight at the university, so he will stay with a Rotary host until Sept. 1, when he will move to an apartment. Wright said he doesn’t speak Danish, but in Scandinavia and northern Europe, everyone knows English.
“I shouldn’t have any problem communicating,” he said, adding that his master’s
program is taught in English.
He will study cognitive semiotics, which is the study of the construction of meaning — that is, how humans interpret and extract meaning from art, literature, film and others. The Scandinavian countries lead the way in the field.
His future plans include getting a PhD, noting his dream job is to become a professor.
However, he also would like to do research into autism, and had been working as a therapist with the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism in Fishers, Ind.
When Wright applied for a scholarship from Rotary, he had to list five universities in order of preference. His first choice was approved.
He was selected to receive the Todd Endowed Ambassadorial Scholarship, which was established as part of a bequest from the Robert and Alice Todd estate in 1987. The Todds lived in Fountain County in the 1930s and moved to Attica, Ind., in 1946. They were active in farming, and Robert was a member of the Attica-Williamsport Rotary Club.
The scholarship is awarded every year that earnings from the endowment are sufficient. The scholarship alternates between students from Rotary districts outside the United States and students from Rotary District 6560, which includes about 35 clubs in central Indiana. Local students may be assigned to study anywhere in the world, while students from overseas are provided scholarships to study at Purdue University.
Wright also was the recipient of a Lilly Endowment Scholarship after high school. He graduated cum laude from Butler University in 2011 with a double major in psychology and English literature.
Wright said he’s thankful for the opportunity, and it also gave him a chance to learn more about Rotary. “There are amazing resources people my age don’t know about,” he said.
Romack, the daughter of Robin Romack of Danville, is a 2010 graduate of Danville High School. She is majoring in English literature and international studies, which she’ll pursue at Al Akhawayn. The gated university is located in the Middle Atlas Mountains, and attracts international students and affluent Moroccans.
Of the 2,400 students, about 90 are international, she said.
She applied to be an exchange student through Illinois Wesleyan and will stay for a semester. Arabic, French and Spanish are spoken in that area, and she knows some French.
The university is westernized, but when she goes out on excursions, she said, “It’s important to be respectful and dress modestly.”
She will have to follow a curfew and the room has to be clean or the student will be fined.
When she graduates, Romack wants to be a travel writer, so this adventure will help prepare her for that. She has been to Greece, Ireland and Scotland, but not North Africa. Culturally, this trip will be the most different from her other travels.
“It’s been a long time coming,” she said of her trip.