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Spanning the Globe

Tiana Morris

Tiana Morris ’16

Finance, Economics Minor

Hometown: Hempstead, New York

Role: José Ramon Pérez International Scholarship Recipient

Fueling the flame: John J. Christian ’87, CAPA International Education

“I have always wanted to travel abroad. If it wasn’t for the José Ramon Pérez International Scholarship, which funded my trip, I wouldn’t be able to live out that dream. I am forever thankful for the sponsors of this scholarship; because of it I found my passion, traveling.”

When Tiana Morris ’16 opened the email and saw “Congratulations,” the tears in her eyes and the racing of her heart made it tricky to read the rest of the message. She had received the José Ramon Pérez International Scholarship, and her dream of traveling abroad was coming true.

“I called my mom crying,” she said. “‘I won the scholarship! I’m going to London!’ She was happy and my dad was speechless because it was really happening. I was going to travel abroad.”

Morris—the first in her family to attend college, the first to graduate from college and the first to travel abroad—now faced the reality of her first time on a plane and the first time leaving the country, and doing it all by herself.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” said the marketing major from Long Island. “The plane ride was my main concern, honestly. But once we were landing and we were in London, I was so overwhelmed. It was hands-down the best experience of my life. I am not scared to try new things anymore, and I look at things more globally now.”

In London, she took classes at CAPA International Education and interned with a not-for-profit called For Common Cause. CAPA is headed by President/CEO John J. Christian ’87, who established the José Ramon Pérez International Scholarship at SUNY Oswego.

While overseas, Morris was able to travel to seven cities in several countries, and that experience shattered her stereotypes and preconceived notions: Paris was not as glamorous as she expected. Amsterdam wasn’t filled with people doing drugs on the streets and Morocco, although in Africa, was not filled with dark-skinned people. In fact, Morris was a novelty.

“People came up to me and just wanted to touch my skin and said, ‘I love this color,’” Morris said. “I was like, ‘This is Africa. Aren’t you guys used to seeing people with dark skin?’ And they really weren’t. They were just so fascinated by me. I really felt like Beyoncé or a queen there.”

Her travel abroad experience has set her life on a new path, just as it did for Christian years ago when he studied abroad for the first time in London through SUNY Oswego. Morris traveled to China in June for a global business forum, and expects to enroll in a graduate program to study international education.

“Without the José Ramon Pérez International Scholarship, there’s no way I would have been able to, not only go abroad to London, but to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life, and to figure out things that I like to do and things that I like about myself. This was an opportunity of a lifetime.”