KOKOMO, Ind. — As a college freshman, Madi Roswog didn’t have a passport.
Not only did she obtain one while she was a student at Indiana University Kokomo — she put seven stamps in it, traveling with classes to countries in Europe, Asia, and Central America, before graduating in May 2018.
She walked the beaches at Normandy, climbed the Great Wall of China, cared for malnourished children in Guatemala, stood in Anne Frank’s Secret Annex in the Netherlands, and viewed priceless masterpieces in Italy.
“Overseas travel made me want to go everywhere, and see everything, “said Roswog, who earned a degree in communication arts. “It helped me learn there is so much more out there than what’s in my small town. There are so many ways of living life. As a whole, it helped make me a better person, and more culturally aware.”
A Kokomo resident, she knew from freshman year that she wanted her campus experience to include overseas travel, and made it a priority. She set aside a percentage of every paycheck from her restaurant job in a travel account, and put all of her tip money in it. She also worked odd jobs, such as driving neighbor children to school and walking dogs, to grow her fund more quickly.
Her travels began with a World War II class and trip, with stops in Germany, England, the Netherlands, and France.
“We learned about the people behind the history, and then we saw where it all happened,” she said. “It was a humbling experience.”
She came back hungry for more, and enrolled in the campus Hispanic culture and health care class, which included a spring break trip to Guatemala, and followed up with an intercultural communication class that included travel to China.
Most recently, Roswog toured Italy with an art history class during spring break her senior year. They learned about the artists and works they would see ahead of time, but she said that did not prepare her for seeing them in person.
As a Catholic, the grandeur of the Sistine Chapel was especially moving to her.
“The pictures don’t do it justice, that’s for sure,” she said, adding that while she’d taken some art classes at St. Theodore Guerin High School, she’d never studied art history.
“I’ve always enjoyed art, but I’d never seen that aspect of it before,” Roswog said. “It was a whole new learning experience. Now I can say I know all these famous artists, and I’ve personally seen their work.”
She appreciates the David Starr Jordan Scholarship and the Emita B. Hill Scholarship, both awarded by IU Kokomo, to make her travel affordable.
“There are more scholarships available than you think,” she said, encouraging other students to take advantage of opportunities to travel while at IU Kokomo.
Travel also helped her hone in on what she might like to do as a career — she hopes to work for a company that facilitates travel for students.
Roswog also wants to continue her own globetrotting, with Greece, Australia, Vietnam, and Japan high on her list of must see destinations.
This summer, she hopes to plan her mother’s first trip out of the United States.
After traveling as part of a student group, she feels prepared for her first time planning her own itinerary.
“I’ll go in as an experienced, knowledgeable traveler,” she said. “I think overseas travel is so important, to get a different perspective on life.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.