If anyone has ever been bitten by the travel bug, it would be Casey Clare. From the moment she arrived on the University of Arkansas campus, her desire to study while traveling the world is one she expressed clearly to her peers and her professors.
“The University of Arkansas was a huge catalyst that opened a lot of doors for me,” she said. These doors started opening when she decided to transfer to the university her sophomore year of college. Growing up in Hot Springs, she admits that while attending Westminster College in Missouri, she missed her hometown, saying, “When you grow up in Arkansas, it becomes a part of your soul.” Fortunately for Clare, she received a scholarship to the University of Arkansas, moved to Fayetteville and never looked back.
“I was in school when Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Mitch Mustain were on the football team, so the games were always fun to go to,” she remembers. Studying and talking with friends at RZ’s Coffee House and attending the symphonies within the Fine Arts Building are just a few memories that she still reminisces about today. However, not all of her time was spent attending football games and musical concerts.
Majoring in international relations, Clare knew that her future career needed to include politics and the ability to travel. Speaking with her adviser, Hoyt Purvis, he put her in contact with the staff in the study abroad office. Being a student within the Honors College, Clare received money that enabled her to study in other countries on four occasions. “Through my travels, I got to see America from abroad. I see things differently now,” she said. Her travels include spending a semester in Viterbo, Italy, a summer in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, a summer in Pingtung, Taiwan, and some time in Honduras after graduation.
“While I was in Taiwan I taught English, so one night my students and I were standing outside a store and I was trying to describe what a mascot is and things like that. I stood there and taught them how to Call the Hogs,” she laughed.
Looking back on her time spent abroad, she expresses thanks to those in the study abroad office, as well as her professors, Purvis and Louise Rozier. Not only was she inspired by Purvis and his willingness to guide her through her years at the university, but Rozier became a mentor, as well as someone who shared a common interest for traveling. Having spent time in Italy and spoken the language, Clare realized that trying to learn textbook Italian was much more difficult. “I had a hard time learning Italian, so she took me under her wing and helped me to realize that my learning style was different,” she said. Both shared an interest in women’s roles in society and often talked about the differences in the world, saying, “We shared a common ground.”
A year after graduating, she got a job with the U.S. Senate, which is something she credits the university and her time spent abroad to helping her obtain. Working as a staff assistant in Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s office, she wrote letters to constituents, answered phones, attended Senate committee hearings, and spent time working in the Hot Springs home office.
In January, she completed her work with Sen. Lincoln’s office and began working as the director of operations for The Alliance for Driver Safety and Security. “I work as a lobbyist and lobby legislation for various transportation companies on the [Capitol] Hill,” she said.
In September 2010, after a four hour long interview process with Rotary International, she received a $30,000 Ambassadorial scholarship that will go toward achieving a master’s degree. With five countries to choose from, Clare has opted to study climate change policy and sustainable development in New Zealand and will begin her program in 2012. “It is a two-year program, so the first year will be about studying and the second will be about service. So while I’m abroad, I’ll get to go to Africa and Australia,” she said.
Still trying to comprehend the opportunities she has been given, Clare admits that without the University of Arkansas, this would have never been possible. As a member of the Arkansas Alumni Association, Clare appreciates the effort that it put forth for scholarships since a university scholarship is what brought her to the Fayetteville campus. Her understanding of what a quality education and supportive professors can provide, she urges future graduates to get involved and not be afraid to take chances. “Get involved in things you are interested in and do it because you enjoy it. It leads to self-discovery and will provide you with a much easier transition into the working world.”