U of A Student Discovers 'Experience of a Lifetime' at Rome Center

Kati Rod during her study abroad experience. Rod studied at the Rome Center, where she "gained a new perspective on history and how it has shaped intercultural and country relationships."
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Kati Rod during her study abroad experience. Rod studied at the Rome Center, where she "gained a new perspective on history and how it has shaped intercultural and country relationships."

Graduate and international education is all about discoveries — the discovery of knowledge, the discovery of research and creative scholarship that improves lives, and the discovery of new countries, cultures and people. The Graduate School and International Education is celebrating our students, faculty and staff that make discoveries happen at the U of A.

“Studying abroad in Rome gave me a new perspective on history and how it has shaped current intercultural and country relationships,” said Kati Rod. “Studying in Rome added to my educational experience by expanding on existing historical and business knowledge and giving me new perspectives on history, business, passion and innovation.”

Rod is a double major in international business management and agricultural business. The Kennedale, Texas, native wanted to study abroad so she could see more of the world and learn about cultures outside of the United States. She chose the U of A because of the vast study abroad opportunities, as well as the flexibility in pursuing multiple degrees across different colleges. 

“I love learning about new cultures and new perspectives, as well as seeing all the cool places that the world has to offer,” she said. “I have always wanted to study abroad, and I chose the University of Arkansas because of the numerous study abroad opportunities offered. Also, the culture around study abroad is unique at the U of A compared to other universities I considered attending.”

While at the Rome Center, Rod took a variety of courses, including Global Changemakers, Principles of Finance and Introduction to Marketing. As an international business student, she also completed the global studies portion of her degree plan by taking two global studies courses offered at the Rome Center. She found that the Rome Center was a perfect fit for her due to the nature of it being a “campus that’s off-campus.”

Her time in Rome also presented many hands-on educational experiences outside of the classroom. In her Global Changemakers class – which focused on “community efforts in creating expansive, long-lasting change” – they traveled to the Caserta area to visit repurposed Camorra lands that are now property of the state being used for social projects. Rod also visited businesses with “social missions,” such as a bakery, a hostel, an olive oil factory and a buffalo farm. 

Rod was so inspired by this trip that she approached her professor about returning to the locale for additional study. 

“After the trip, I spoke to my professor about how I could return for a longer project, and she facilitated the trip,” she said. “I visited a cooperative that partners with several of the other social businesses in town to sell their products as well as the ones made on their property. Many of those products are used in their on-site restaurant. They are also a space used for retreats, children’s groups, camps and other activities. In everything they do, they work to educate the public about the history of these lands and how they’re now utilized.”

“The mission of the cooperative was also to employ those that may be ostracized in society and could not find employment elsewhere,” she continued. “The founder of the cooperative wanted to create a space where anyone could come and have decent work while educating the public about mafia influence in the area. While I was there, I worked with ex-convicts, a man currently in prison, those with mental disorders and addicts.”

She noted how, while she was visiting the cooperative, they “took her in as one of their own,” and she was in awe of the sense of belonging she experienced. “From this experience, I saw the impact of a mission-driven business and how important relationships are in fulfilling a mission and goals.”

Additionally, the professor of her finance class made special efforts to set up meetings with local entrepreneurs. Talking with them and seeing their businesses expanded Rod’s perspective of “what is possible and showed how passion plays a critical role in business.”

“My experiences in Italy opened my eyes to entrepreneurship and how much power businesses have to change people’s lives. Seeing a business built on people rather than profits was unique and it made me confident in what I can do to change people’s lives and positively influence outcomes within and outside of business,” she said. “After my experience in Italy, I am striving to build a business that puts people first and aims to create opportunities for those that society may deem 'less than.'”

“I want to negotiate and execute international sales and breeding contracts, work with ranchers who are implementing international breeding programs and help them with their international marketing, logistics, partnerships and strategic planning,” she continued.

Rod was dedicated to her studies, but that did not stop her and her classmates from taking advantage of the opportunities to sightsee and travel further throughout Europe to England, Ireland, France and Spain. Some of her favorite memories included hiking in Howth, Ireland, spending time in London, and seeing the beautiful architecture of churches in Italy.  

“Studying abroad taught me the importance of community and gave me the opportunity to learn things about history, business and international relationships that I don’t think I could have learned otherwise,” she said. “There is learning in the entire experience. It was sometimes difficult and unfamiliar, but that is where the community came in and where I gained confidence in overcoming uncertainty. I am grateful for those experiences just as much as the others.”

More information on study abroad opportunities at the U of A can be found on the Office of Study Abroad website

About The Rome Center Since its inception in 1989, the Rome Center has served as a premiere locale for transformative study abroad experiences for University of Arkansas students. Originally founded exclusively for architecture students, the center was expanded for students from across the university in 2016. Students can study abroad at the Rome Center during the fall, spring and summer semesters, with courses offered across the university's academic disciplines. More information on the Rome Center is available on their website.


Bethany Tilley, graduate assistant
Graduate School and International Education
479-575-4853, btilley@uark.edu

John Post, director of communications
Graduate School and International Education
479-575-4853, johnpost@uark.edu


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