NORFOLK - A Northeast Community College student is spending a semester studying abroad in Europe this year through the College’s Center for Global Engagement. Andrew Klatt, Ainsworth, is studying for one semester at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, where he is taking courses he can use toward his associate of applied science in banking services degree at Northeast.
Pam Saalfeld, director of Northeast’s Center for Global Engagement, said the newly established center had just begun serving students when Klatt contacted her in September, 2015. “It was days, if not hours, old when Andrew stopped in,” she said.
Although students have completed short-term stays and participated in Northeast-sponsored international trips through the Center for Global Engagement, Klatt is the College’s first student to study abroad for an entire semester.
Klatt said he had an interest in studying abroad as far back as high school. “It would seem so overwhelming when you’re 15 years old,” he said. “There’s so much involved. I just remember reading over the requirements and it was just so overwhelming.”
However, once Klatt began his freshman year at Northeast and contacted Saalfeld, the process felt much more manageable. “It was all new for me, but it was nothing new for her.”
Saalfeld worked with Klatt throughout his entire freshman year to ensure every aspect of his study abroad experience was in place before he went. She coordinated with financial aid to make sure international credits could be transferred to Klatt’s Northeast degree and worked with Klatt’s advisor to approve his classes at Robert Gordon University. Klatt, who plays piano in Northeast’s jazz band, also had to ensure his music scholarship and place in the band would be intact when he returns to the College in the spring.
Saalfeld said this lengthy process is vital to a student’s successful study abroad experience. “We don’t want students to be penalized for studying abroad in any way,” she said. “If it doesn’t work, then we can’t in good conscience encourage them.”
Klatt invested considerable time and effort into his preparations, too, arranging flights and insurance, and at one point, even waking up at 4 a.m. to make a phone call to Robert Gordon University, which is six hours ahead of Norfolk. “No matter what, I’m going. Nothing’s going to tie me down.”
“Andrew’s always had an excellent attitude about things,” said Saalfeld. “He’s always said, ‘I am going to do this,’ and we’ve always been able to work it out.”
Through working with Saalfeld, Klatt was also able to earn a Saltire Scholarship, a merit-based award he can put toward his tuition fees that is designed to support the promotion of Scottish higher education to American and Canadian students.
Klatt currently works at West Plains Bank in Ainsworth and hopes to have a career in banking. While in Scotland, he plans to visit a bank to gain an understanding of their system. “I’m interested in how they balance their vault and gold-to-paper ratios, so I’m really excited to go in and have a tour and find out how they do things.”
Klatt, who has lived his whole life in Nebraska, has traveled abroad once before but said he was too young to remember it.
“Everybody should study abroad. You can read 500 books about Scotland, but you’re not going to experience it,” he said. “I’ve talked about (studying abroad) for a year. And it’s never really hit me until I looked at my plane ticket.”
PHOTO ID: Andrew Klatt. (Courtesy Northeast Community College)