Frank Surma scholars hold positions throughout the world—corporate lawyer in New York, teacher on the coast, financial advisor in Denver. Amazing careers. His scholarship has helped more than twenty-five students since the grants began—one each from England and China, with the remainder from Poland, where students are finding out by word of mouth.
Take Karolina Wyszynska '02 (English and Writing), director of sales and marketing at the Ashland Springs Hotel. She earned her master in management at SOU in 2006. "I was at Nicolas Copernicus University in Torun, planning to become a teacher, maybe an instructor at the university level," says Karolina. "When the scholarship happened, it was a wonderful chance to learn so much more and to become someone I would never be back home. Truth is, what I expected and what it has turned out to be is just amazing."
Karolina thought she would only be here ten months before returning home. And she did go back to finish her degree, but she felt there was so much more for her to do in the U.S. "I wanted to keep going," Karolina says. "This place caught my heart. I love living here and being part of the community."
Like all of the Surma scholars, Karolina was touched by the depth of Frank's support. "Frank gave me so many opportunities," she says. "Not just financial support, but advice." With her parents so far away, Karolina has come to think of Frank as a second father. "We might not talk for a half a year because he travels, I travel," she says, "but he is checking on me, and I think, 'Okay, Dad!'"
The breadth of Frank's support also surprised current scholar Izabela Pietrzak, also from Nicolas Copernicus University. "When I was planning on coming, I thought I would have to look for an apartment," says Izabela. "I came, and my apartment was ready, my furniture was ready. And Frank kept asking me, what are my classes, what are my plans, do I need help, what's the progress, do I still want to be here," she says. "I was comfortable because I knew I had someone taking care of me."
Frank enjoys getting to know his scholarship recipients. "I have had the opportunity to make so many good friends, both young and old, as I get to know the students and their families," he says. "For what little bit I give up, I get ten times more in return—as far as psychic income and personal satisfaction—and I make many very nice friends."