student group in italy

UTSA senior Civil Engineering major, Crista Cerda, returned to San Antonio from Urbino, Italy in the fall of 2019. She spent her days walking along Urbino's cobblestone streets with fellow classmates in search of Italy's delectable cuisine while experiencing the country's rich culture as they learned to communicate with locals. Regularly, her class traveled to major cities like Rome, Italy where she engaged with lead engineers and discussed multiple development projects in the city.

"Studying abroad has expanded my experience and knowledge of working in international settings and making adjustments in the design and construction processes," Crista said.

Born into a family with eight children, it was difficult for Crista's parents to financially support her goal of attending college and experiencing a study abroad program. But Crista was able to overcome the financial barriers that hindered her plans to study abroad by earning the W. Zackery Ramey Endowed Memorial Award.

In 1998, UTSA alumni Lina Ramey '86 and her husband, Kenneth '87 established their endowed fund to help students like Crista take their studies global. Today, Lina owns her own civil engineering firm headquartered in Dallas.

"I think the more engineering challenges the students are exposed to will help better prepare them to solve real-life challenges that they will be facing throughout their career. I also think that being able to enjoy Italy while studying abroad will give them lifelong memories and inspire them to continue giving after they graduate," she said.

Crista shared that her time in Italy showed her what it might be like as a civil engineer in a new country, broadening her horizons and opening her eyes to new cultural perspectives.

"Studying abroad has changed not only my life, but also impacted my family's life. It's an experience that will change me forever, not only as a student but also as an individual. I am forever grateful for the assistance donors are willing to provide to students like me," Crista expressed.

Spending a semester abroad helped Crista develop a deeper view of the world and the role that civil engineering plays in improving communities. As a result, Crista's goal after graduation is to work in the construction of water supply projects. She hopes to find cost-effective water treatments for low-income communities that struggle with limited access to drinkable water.

Donors like Lina and Kenneth Ramey make it possible for thousands of UTSA alumni to graduate and impact positive change across the globe. Endowed scholarships for study abroad programs can change a student's life. Crista will graduate from UTSA's College of Engineering in May 2020 and her study abroad experience will forever influence her bright and limitless future.