Ramona Lyttle will be Concordia’s first official Davis United World College (UWC) Scholar to graduate this spring.
UWC Davis, launched in 2000, is the world’s largest, privately funded, international scholarship program – supporting more than 3,800 undergraduates from 165 nations. Founders Shelby Davis and Phil Geier had a single idea: “bring thousands of talented students from every corner of the globe to U.S. colleges and universities … create an international understanding and change the world.”
Lyttle first became aware of the UWC program when she was studying in Jamacia for her Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Exam. After she learned of the opportunity to study at an international school in Norway and was encouraged to apply, she began investigating to learn more about what was offered at UWC Red Cross Nordic (UWCRCN) on the west coast of Norway in Flekke.
Lyttle submitted her high school transcript and went through an application process that included several essays and interviews. Throughout the process, she had the opportunity to communicate with other applicants in friendly competition, play games, and participate in various program activities.
“I was ecstatic to learn that I had been accepted to study in Norway,” Lyttle exclaimed. “I am grateful for the encouragement and support that enabled me to seek this once-in-a-lifetime chance.”
The UWC scholarship provided Lyttle with a complete scholarship that covered not just full tuition but also food, lodging, medical bills, travel expenses, and other necessary expenses. During her stay at UWCRCN, she had the opportunity to meet with local people and get immersed in the community.
“I also appreciated the opportunity to share my cultural heritage with pupils of other nations,” Lyttle said. “Learning about different cultures while also educating people about my own was a rewarding experience.”
Being part of the prominent UWC network, UWCRCN maintains links with specific American colleges, which is how Lyttle said she first became acquainted with Concordia. Concordia’s great reputation, both locally and worldwide, as well as the various opportunities it offers, were driving factors in her decision to join the community. However, at the time she applied to Concordia, the college was only able to accept two students from the UWC with a full scholarship so, after carefully weighing her options, she chose a college in Idaho that offered the best scholarship opportunity at the time.
After spending some time in Idaho, Lyttle recognized that she was looking for a better opportunity. Remembering her past interest in Concordia, she chose to transfer.
“Having previously been admitted, I was certain that Concordia would provide me with the best possibilities for personal development and academic achievement,” she said.
“It was challenging for me to adjust to a new college since I felt like I was starting over,” she added. “Yet, with determination and endurance, I was able to overcome the first hurdles and fulfill my goals at Concordia. Looking back, I can confidently say that moving to Concordia was the right decision since it provided me with the resources and environment I needed to grow and thrive as a student and as an individual.”
Lyttle experienced both culture and weather shock going to Norway and Idaho after growing up in Jamaica. But by the time she got to Minnesota, she was better prepared for the new environment. Nonetheless, she said the food was a bit of a surprise because Jamaican food is more heavily seasoned and spicy than what she’s tasted in the U.S.
While in Idaho, Lyttle was interested in majoring in actuarial science but switched to accounting when she realized it wasn’t offered and chose to continue with accounting when she transferred to Concordia. She said despite the hurdles, she likes accounting and is driven to succeed. She is now looking for full-time employment in accounting after which she intends to seek a doctorate in economics.
Her advice for others:
“It is normal to be apprehensive about one's future and to encounter a number of roadblocks along the way. But I’d advise others not to be disheartened by these problems; the final result of your efforts will be well worth it. The road to success might be difficult at times, but it is only with perseverance and determination that one can overcome these obstacles and achieve greatness. Don't be afraid to take risks and chase your dreams, since with hard work and commitment, you may do the inconceivable.”