A Ticket to Understanding
Shortly after Ellen Cohen Raede ’80 returned from her junior year in Spain, she met a fellow communications major who shared her love of travel. Robert Raede ’80 had spent his college summers touring Germany as part of a vocal trio. Acting as president, Ellen “hired” Rob in a corporate communications class. Thus began a long relationship full of adventure, including 22 years as loyal supporters of UC Santa Barbara’s Education Abroad Program.
“It’s very meaningful for both of us,” said Ellen. “Studying abroad creates individuals who are independent and understand other ways of looking at the world. We hope it encourages students to question their own thinking and other people’s thinking in a respectful way.”
The Ellen and Robert Raede Scholarship has supported students who’ve studied in countries including Israel, Ghana, UK-Scotland, Spain, and Denmark. Ellen is the founding chair of the EAP Ambassadors at UC Santa Barbara, a group of dedicated EAP alumni donors, and she has served on that volunteer committee for 15 years.
“Not everybody can afford the extra expense to go abroad — university tuition and living is significant,” said Ellen. “Our scholarship helps students who wouldn't normally be able to study abroad. I don't think I've ever met a student who has studied abroad who isn't an interesting, outgoing, well-adjusted person. Maybe not when they leave, but definitely when they come back.”
This year’s Ellen and Robert Raede Scholarship Recipient is Sunny Ascencio ’22, a biological sciences major who is studying abroad in Spain. Like Sunny, Ellen also studied abroad in Madrid.
“Taking Spanish at UC Santa Barbara led to going abroad, which opened me up to culture and independent thinking. I have so many vivid memories: the food, the connections, the friends that I still keep in touch with. It was very meaningful,” said Ellen.
Sunny hopes to become a marine biologist and educator. He is currently a fifth-year student studying at the Complutense University of Madrid, one of the oldest operating universities in the world and one of Spain’s most prestigious institutions.
“Because you gave me this opportunity with this scholarship, you have reduced my financial burden, which will allow me to focus on my schoolwork and my experience abroad,” said Sunny. “I am so grateful for it because I am so excited to experience a new culture, a new environment, and a learning opportunity to grow as a future educator.”
The Raedes find it rewarding to mentor and learn from students like Sunny. They welcome many UC Santa Barbara students to dinners at their home.
“The last gathering we had at our house, we sat around the fireplace outdoors and played a game where you have three minutes to tell your life story as a movie: setup, tension, and resolution,” said Rob, a musician who learned the game as a songwriting exercise. “People got to talking about their most profound experiences and what they hope to do in their lives.”
For Rob and Ellen, travel is one of those profound experiences.
“You take a kid who comes from California and you throw them into the middle of Italy or China or Spain,” said Rob. “They have to learn how the other person consumes media, thinks about things, shares birthday wishes. We think that makes our world a better place.”