Highland Adventures

Inverness, Scotland

As Robert Burns, regarded as the national poet of Scotland, so eloquently wrote: “Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, the hills of the Highlands forever I love.”


Ample camaraderie is evident among students and faculty during Stetson’s Summer Scotland, with the Urquhart Castle in the background. Students who participate in the summer program earn four credits upon completion.

The endearing qualities of Scotland have inspired many a writer and poet over the years. Travelers from every corner of the globe also have been enchanted by Scotland’s beauty, typically describing it as “mystical” and “awe-inspiring.” 

For Stetson students, a study-abroad program, now going into its fourth year, is providing them with the opportunity to experience that splendor firsthand in Inverness, a city in the Scottish Highlands and the northernmost city of the United Kingdom. 

“I had never traveled outside the country before, so it was suggested that Scotland would be a good first study-abroad experience. It was a life-changing experience, and I caught the travel bug after that,” said Caylyn Gunby ’19, a double-major in international studies and world languages and cultures whoparticipated in the program in the summer of 2016. Gunby added she since has participated in two additional study-abroad programs in Austria and Thailand, plus an internship in France.

Such a trip has that kind of impact. 

Summer Scotland is centered at The University of the Highlands and Islands – Inverness College

The Inverness program, called Summer Scotland, is a multi-university, faculty-led consortium including professors from Stetson, Jacksonville University and Utah Valley University, all congregating at The University of the Highlands and Islands – Inverness College to teach students management and marketing as they relate to the international community. With approximately 8,500 students, Inverness College is the main campus for The University of the Highlands and Islands. 

The program occurs three or four weeks over summers. Summer Scotland 2019 is set for May 28-June 27. 

“Five years ago, we got together with Jacksonville University and suggested Scotland as a great place for a study-abroad program,” cited Paula Hentz, director of international learning at WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center for International Learning at Stetson. “We wanted to build something that included best practices and incorporated case-study projects with local Scottish businesses. Utah Valley University and Inverness College joined the consortium, and it has turned out to be really beneficial for students.” 

As part of case-study projects, students work with local companies on real-world business issues. 

As part of these case-study projects, students are paired with local businesses (five students per company) and work on real-world business issues. They apply their coursework and offer solutions to actual problems to help the businesses, presenting a final report at the end of the project. 

Group projects vary based on the current business needs. In the past, companies have included WOW! Scotland (a travel company); a fashion designer who has designed items for the Queen; Robertson Construction; Walker (an international shortbread company); local craft breweries; a Highland bakery that provided baked goods for the 2012 London Olympics; local social enterprises that support youth; and Cobb (a hotel company). 

“This represents an incredible opportunity for students to not only get real-world experience but also real-world international business experience — learning how to do business in another country with another culture. It’s a great challenge for them,” Hentz added. 

In 2016, Gunby and her team worked with Café Artysans, a social-enterprise café in Inverness that uses some of its profits to help homeless Scottish youth. 

“We helped with advertising, met with the director and talked about growth and international outreach,” Gundy said. “We focused on social-media coverage and how to better reach out to Americans.” 

Carol Azab, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing in the School of Business Administration, teaches, lectures and represents Stetson on the program.

Students who participate in the program are offered a choice between two courses — Global Marketing: Business Without Borders and Principles of Management — and earn four credits upon completion. The course counts as an elective for nonbusiness students. 

“These study-abroad programs teach students about international business and how countries operate and do business differently because of cultural nuances,” said Carol Azab, Ph.D., assistant professor of marketing in the School of Business Administration, who teaches, lectures and represents Stetson on the trips. “In Scotland, people are more laid-back than we are when it comes to their business culture. And it’s important for students to be able to adapt to whatever company they’re working for, wherever that may be. 

“When I see students presenting at the end of the program, I feel so proud. Their marketing proposals and plans get praise from these companies, and they’ve resulted in direct changes and improvements made in many of the businesses. It’s a life-changing experience for these students, who come back more enlightened and also improve academically.” 

Students start some coursework online prior to their arrival in Inverness. Once there, they have regular class time, Monday through Friday, and also interact with advisers to work on their case studies. Additionally, they hear local guest lecturers talk about topics such as the effects of Brexit (the U.K. leaving the European Union), the general business environment and business practices in Scotland. Students have the option to stay in the dormitories at Inverness College or with a Scottish host family. 

Further, there is cultural immersion. Among the highlights is a guided tour of the Isle of Skye, the largest and most northerly large island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. 

“It was stunning,” Gunby recalled. “We actually went to Fairy Pools [on the River Brittle in the Isle of Skye].” 

As part of their study (and adventure), students investigate the legend of Loch Ness, the deepest lake in the United Kingdom. 

Other excursions include visits to Loch Ness, the deepest lake in the United Kingdom and where students can take a boat tour and hear stories about the Loch Ness Monster; Urquhart Castle, one of Scotland’s most iconic castles on the banks of Loch Ness; the Quiraing, a landslip on the eastern face of Meall na Suiramach, the northernmost summit of the Trotternish on the Isle of Skye; and Edinburgh, the ancient capital city of Scotland. 

Also, this past summer students participated in mini-Highland Games, so they could try some of the activities. Previously, they had watched the actual Highland Games. “We learned about Scottish food, music, sports, folklore and even got to hear Gaelic from the local Highlanders,” noted Gunby. 

“We want students to step out of their comfort zones,” Azab said, simply. 

“It’s a chance to build intentional opportunities for students to meet local people,” Hentz affirmed. “Everything we do there is geared toward giving our students the most immersive cultural experience possible.” 

For Gunby, who missed not having black pudding and sausage when she got back to the States, her Scotland experience opened many doors and widened her eyes. And she will never forget the Scottish people, while she also became close with other Stetson students who participated in the program. 

“They’re so friendly and much more laid-back then we are,” she said about the Scottish. “People understand how to enjoy life there, and that taught me something about how to live my life.” 

When Gunby graduates this spring, she plans on teaching English abroad, as a gap year, then attending grad school to get a master’s degree in international affairs or global development.

The study-abroad effect is transformative. 

“I believe in student learning and stepping out into the world as a life-changing experience,” Azab concluded. “Helping students realize this is very rewarding to me. In the end, we’re celebrating differences, and this is a beautiful thing and a great lesson for these students to learn.” 

-Jack Roth

Online at Stetson Today March 27, 2019

Stetson’s Portuguese Instructor at Yale University: the Building and Sharing of a Legacy

By Fernanda Ribeiro, Fulbright Brazilian Language Scholar

I have never taught my mother tongue to non-native speakers of Portuguese before. When I arrived at Stetson University as a Fulbright scholar last year, on the 8th of August, I was given the mission of continuing the wonderful work left by Raquel Santos (2015-2016), Ana Paula Spalenza Pereira (2016-2017) and Greici Buzzi (2017-2018) each in turn,  a Teacher Scholar in Stetson’s Portuguese program. Then I thought: What can I do to leave my legacy on campus in nine months and contribute to the recognition and importance of one having a Portuguese language program at Stetson after my going back to Brazil?

Fernanda Rebeiro, Stetson FLTA 2018-2019

“Will I be able to meet Fulbright’s goals and truly represent my country as a cultural ambassador? It was quite a challenge, I must confess.”

On my first day as a Portuguese instructor, I had 8 students from the most diverse linguistic backgrounds: Spanish speakers, heritage speakers of Portuguese, polyglots, monolinguals. In spite of the differences, all of them had chosen to learn Portuguese, among the myriad of languages that the Department of World Languages and Cultures offer every semester, and, as a native speaker of Portuguese and a graduated teacher with years of experience, I had to give them my best, and the best of my country and my language.

Fernanda Rebiero presenting her work at stetson to other Fulbright Scholars at Yale University, Connecticut in spring 2019

With a lot of guaraná, brigadeiros, cheese breads (of course!), memes and music, the classes have been fun, dynamic and full of learning. My students have become my friends and I have learned a lot from and with them too – and that is one of the priceless opportunities we have as teachers. Outside the classroom hours, I have organized tablings, Brazilian clubs, cultural credit events and tertulias, everything under the fantastic supervision of the wonderful Dr. Pamela Cappas-Toro, who has always given me a free hand to do my best here, allowing me to be truly and entirely myself.

And the days have passed, so has the semester. I have been in DeLand for 7 months now and it is already my second and last semester as a Portuguese instructor here at Stetson. During a talk with Dr. Cappas-Toro, she told me that I am the last Fulbright scholar of Portuguese and that, in the Fall semester of 2019, there will be a full-time professor, whose commitment with the Department of World Languages and Cultures includes making the Portuguese program even stronger through the offer of higher level Portuguese courses – currently Stetson offers 101 and 102 levels only. What does it mean? It means that all the work of the four Brazilian Fulbrighers had not been in vain. It is quite the contrary: the four of us have planted seeds which have been constantly watered and which have now bloomed into beautiful flowers.

Fernanda Ribiero visits Yale University to present on her work as a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant at Stetson during the 2018-2019 academic year.

With such accomplishments in mind, and full of joy, I traveled to Connecticut last month and talked about the teaching of Portuguese at Stetson University at a conference at Yale University. There, I encountered the other Brazilian Portuguese instructors that came to the US with me and it was such a great experience. When I was presenting my speech, I was really moved because I could share my experience not only as a language instructor but also as a representative of Brazil, and as a cultural ambassador, I could say, and reinforce without any doubt the impact the Fulbright scholars have in a community and in the world. Raquel’s, Ana Paula’s and Greci’s work was also mentioned at Yale, after all we are a team!

These months here have been a daily learning. I am sure that I am not the same Fernanda anymore. With expanded horizons, a renewed cultural and linguistic baggage of knowledge and the most important thing – my legacy left at Stetson – , I will go back to my home country with the feeling of having fulfilled my duty. My future and my perspectives will be forever changed because my home will always have a little of this country and the wonderful family I have built here. After all, we are the result of the books we read, the places we visit, the languages we speak and teach and the people we get to meet – a  change for the better.

Fernanda Ribeiro joins Stetson University from Brazil to teach Portuguese as a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant. She is a first-generation college student who graduated from Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro in 2015, earning a licentiate degree in Portuguese, English and their respective literatures. Ms. Ribeiro earned a Master’s degree in linguistics from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro this past February. For more on Ms. Ribero, click here.

On to the CFA Final Four

Stetson’s prestigious Roland George Investments Program will be sending four students to the Final Four championship of the CFA Institute Research Challenge (Chartered Financial Analyst) for Florida, March 2 in Jacksonville.

The CFA Institute Research Challenge is an annual collegiate research competition sponsored by CFA Institute-member societies across the state. Globally, the research challenge includes 800 participating universities, 500 industrial volunteers and more than 4,000 undergraduate/graduate students spanning four continents.

During the four months leading up the competition deadline, Stetson students Matthew Sweeney,USA, Luca Zambelli, Italy, Humberto Soares, Venezuela and Bilal Hashmi, Pakistan compiled a research report on Lennar Corp., a publicly traded company in the residential construction Industry. The students then were challenged with competing against the 16 other participating Florida institutions on the overall quality of the report, with each institution reporting on the same company.


Roland George Investment Program representatives in the statewide CFA Institute Research Challenge on March 2: (from left) Bilal Hashmi, Humberto Soares, Luca Zambelli and Matthew Sweeney.

In the end, the Stetson team emerged as one of the top four finalists, with Florida International University, Florida State University and Jacksonville University also advancing to the final round of the state competition.

“Having spent over 200 hours on the financial metrics of Lennar Corporation, and conducting a comprehensive industry analysis, the competition became less about the mere quantity of work and more about taking pride in the significance of the work we were doing,” said Soares, a senior finance and economics double major. “It takes more than just financial smartness to perform at a high level in the CFA Research Challenge. At the end of the day, it is about the blood, sweat and tears that you are willing to put in.”

“Humberto and I were looked upon as the experienced senior leaders of the group, with juniors Luca and Bilal being the newbies. But that soon changed when their skills as clever financial analysts soon became very evident,” said Matthew Sweeney, a double major in math and finance.

When asked about joining the team, Zambelli, a junior management and finance major, noted: “I did not know if I could do this, I had never done anything like this before and I felt as if I was way out of my comfort zone. But then, little by little, I felt a part of the team and knew that I could make a positive difference.” 

The collective efforts of the team are what ultimately drove their success in producing the “highest quality research paper in the eight years that the Stetson University Roland George Investment Program has participated in the research challenge,” commented K.C. Ma, Ph.D., the Roland George Chair of Applied Investments and director of the George Investments Institute. 

Not surprising, given their success, the students sacrificed much of their free time to prepare, including the majority of their winter break.

“Spread all around the world, we had many a skype call with our director, Dr. Ma, in Taiwan, and Luca, who was home in Milan, Italy, for the break,” said Hashmi, majoring in finance and economics.

Since being a part of the CFA Institute Research Challenge, Stetson has placed a team in the Florida Final Four six out of the eight years, including one Florida Championship.

Could this be a second big win?

-Nate Smith ’19

See related article here.