Ryan Spirko ’16 has come a long way since first setting foot on Lehigh’s campus four years ago – both literally and figuratively. Spirko, who grew up in Easton, Pa., which he describes as a “far 25-minute drive from Lehigh,” had never been on a plane before enrolling in Lehigh’s College of Business and Economics.
“I’d never been out of the time zone,” the finance major recalls.
Today, Spirko has two back-to-back overseas experiences under his belt. In the spring semester of his junior year, he studied in Hong Kong, returned to the United States for four weeks, and then, thanks to the Tauck Scholars Program, left for Sydney, Australia, for five weeks, where he interned with KPMG’s management consulting practice.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Tauck Scholars Program was founded through the generosity of alumnus Arthur Tauck ’53 as a way to allow rising seniors in the College of Business and Economics (CBE) to complete an international summer internship. Since its inception, Tauck scholarships have been awarded to 72 highly motivated business students who participated in internships and educational programs in 17 countries on four continents.
In addition to Spirko, three other CBE students who added their names to the Tauck alumni list this summer were: accounting major Domenic DeNiro, who interned with Deloitte LLP in Johannesburg, South Africa; accounting major Emma K. Hillman, who interned at Ernst and Young LLP in Dublin, Ireland; and finance major Ariel Frazier-Freeman, who spent three weeks in Copenhagen, Denmark, with a program called DIS (Danish Institute of Study Abroad) followed by another three weeks in Dublin, Ireland as an intern with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Spirko says the Tauck experience has been life-changing. For starters, he says, he may end up working overseas when he graduates. He says he’s grateful to the program for having exposed him to the culture of Australia, which went beyond what he would have experienced as a tourist.
“It has been eye-opening,” says Spirko. “Working [in Australia] was a whole new experience, and I didn’t anticipate it would be as rewarding as it was.”
Of course, Spirko says, he did get to do “touristy” things, such as take a Great Barrier Reef excursion. But, he adds, part of the benefit of living and working in Sydney was the chance to do things that his colleagues at KPMG were doing, such as attend an Australia vs. New Zealand rugby game, which is one of the biggest matchups in the sport.
Associate Dean Katrina A. Zalatan says the Tauck program is about more than an international summer internship, although the majority of Tauck scholars do complete some sort of an internship. Tauck’s vision, she says, is to offer learning opportunities to students in cultural settings that are new and foreign to them.
Perhaps Tauck’s greatest insight, Zalatan says, was to recognize the importance of providing college students with an international learning opportunity long before it was trendy to do so.
“His generosity, not only in terms of funding the program, which showed he had a lot of foresight, but in terms of being willing to come back to campus to share his story and to be a part of the process, is what has made the Tauck experience something to be coveted,” Zalatan says. “That says a lot about him and what his vision was. We owe him a great deal of gratitude.”
Story by Jennifer Marangos