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The gift of studying abroad
James Venskus (BA ’70, MA ’88)
Jim is retiring from his third career and moving to Arizona. For his most recent career at Northern Illinois University (NIU), Jim has worked for 12 years as special assistant to the vice president and general counsel. He recently made a provision for an endowed scholarship in his estate plan to provide opportunities for students to study abroad.
Q: What do you value about your Loyola education?
It was very well balanced. I got my BA in sociology, and then I went back years later and earned an MA in organizational development. I’ve used them both in my career, so it really was hands-on proof of the value of what I had studied. But what I value beyond that was the arts, philosophy, and history that a “career education” seems to overlook.
Q: Why do you feel it’s important for college students to study abroad?
After I graduated, I worked in education for a while and then entered the travel industry. Part of my responsibility was bringing high school and college kids to Europe and the Caribbean. That’s when I really got to see the value of students benefiting from studying abroad: firsthand exposure to things so different from the United States.
Q: Why do you feel it is important to support Loyola in your estate plan?
Having been a first-generation student, money was very tight—because I wasn’t getting the benefit of parents who were earning at college levels. If I hadn’t done the things that I did, I would have missed all of those rich experiences. So I would like to make similar experiences available for students who find it difficult to pay for their education.
Q: What are your hopes for the estate gift?
It’s really meaningful to me that this ongoing gift will complement the education of future Loyola students and change their lives in a different way. My hope is that their experiences abroad will transform their lives as it did mine.
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