Sacred Heart Students Head To Europe For 'Cities By The Sea' Trip

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From left are Jocelyn Rivas, Alison Marchione, Matt Cole, Professor John Rapaglia, Sarah DeWolf and Christina Giglio on the Ponte degli Alpini in Bassano del Grappa, Italy. Photo Credit: Courtesy Sacred Heart University

FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Five Sacred Heart University students gained new insight into the field of coastal management as part of a "Cities By The Sea" trip. 

The program, which is the university's first marine science study abroad program, gave students experience with Geographical Information System software while immersing them in culture in Europe. The faculty-led program was conducted in July and highlighted by a 16-day visit to Venice, Italy and a 11-day stay in Kiel, Germany. The students also had a chance to spend a night in Austria.

John Rapaglia, an assistant professor of biology, designed the course through the university’s Office of Global Affairs. The five Sacred Heart students who participated in the inaugural trip included four undergraduates and one graduate student.

Newington's Sarah DeWolf, 19, called the program “easily the most valuable and unforgettable experience I’ve ever had," according to a release.

"The experience changed me in every way,” DeWolf said. “It taught me how to rely on myself, trust my instincts… I’ve become more confident, more adventurous, braver and more imaginative. It taught me a lot about the human experience and what it means to be a part of the world, rather than a bystander.”

The summer began with the group’s arrival in Venice in early July where the students were given access to laboratories and worked directly with Luca Zagat and his colleagues at the state-of-the-art National Research Council of Italy’s Marine Science Institute.

“This program immersed me in a field I knew nothing about and made me confident in it,” DeWolf said in the release. “Even though I am not going into any sort of hydrology, I feel this program was worthwhile simply because of the skills it reinforced—building presentations, learning experiment design, collaborating with foreign scientists, building efficiency in lab procedures, constructing lab reports and organizing and presenting the results of your hard work to outsiders—invaluable skills to any sort of student.”

Rapaglia called the program "life-changing."

“I feel it offers a unique and rich blend of science and research opportunities coupled with an incredibly diverse and exciting cultural experience.” 

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