By Dr. Strother, Chair of the Graduate Program in Communication
Serendipity is one of my favorite words. Some of life’s most wonderful moments seem to come unexpectedly or as a matter of chance. I believe that turning a chance occurrence into something great is as simple as recognizing its potential and then reaching out to seize the opportunity.
It was just such an event that started me on the long and wonderful relationship I’ve had with The Netherlands. Not long after my husband Ed completed graduate school, he and I took our first trip around Europe – the dream of a lifetime – and one that confirmed that a large part of my soul was anchored there – particularly in northern Europe. A few years later, while working on my master’s degree at Oregon State University, I studied under Dr. Jan Ulijn, a Dutch professor of psycholinguistics from the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e) in The Netherlands. In our discussions, we discovered that his university and Florida Tech shared many commonalities and we began a series of cross-Atlantic research collaborations. Our first research results were soon presented at a conference in Belgium and I developed that research into my Ph.D. at the TU/e. That was the beginning of a productive professional relationship and wonderful family friendship. In addition to continuing collaboration on research projects, including two books, Dr. Ulijn invited me to teach at the TU/e as a visiting professor. Over the years, my role at TU/e has expanded rather dramatically from that early teaching experience, and I now offer Technical Report Writing in two Ph.D. programs, one in Software Design and one in Industrial Mathematics. Along the way, I wrote the book that is used in those and several other technical writing courses at the TU/e. While these initial collaborations allowed me to teach, study, write, conduct research, and present at many international conferences, they have also given my husband and me the opportunity to travel widely throughout Europe.
I firmly believe that travel changes who you are and how you see your place in the world. For that reason, I have been passionate about giving our Florida Tech students the opportunity to experience at least a corner of Europe this summer with our Study Abroad program to The Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. We will be based at the university in Eindhoven and will have speakers from local high-tech industries and will visit several corporations in the area. In addition, we’ll have a number of cultural excursions to broaden everyone’s international horizons.
Serendipity is a gift – look for it, recognize it when it happens, and reach out and grab the opportunities it presents!