Few things have had a stronger influence on my academic pursuits and career goals than my involvement with BYU’s Center for the Study of Europe (CSE). It all started while I was taking a political science course on the European Union from Professor Rebecca Larsen. Toward the end of the semester, she approached me and asked if I was interested in a job with CSE. I had not been at BYU for long and was not very familiar with the center, but she thought I would make a good candidate for a research assistant position that had just opened. I agreed to look into it.
Not long after that conversation, I found myself in the office of Wade Jacoby, CSE’s director. He first asked me to explain my interest in Europe. I replied that even though I am Brazilian, my ancestors came from Italy and Portugal. Also, Brazil itself is a Eurocentric country, which had piqued my interest in Europe from an early age. I had also just returned from a mission to London and was taking a number of courses on European topics, including language courses.
“Few things have had a stronger influence on my academic pursuits and career goals than my involvement with BYU’s Center for the Study of Europe”
Before I began working, I learned of another opportunity sponsored by the center. A few BYU students would be attending the Undergraduate Research Conference on the European Union sponsored by the Claremont Colleges and the University of California system. I submitted a paper I had written for Professor Larsen’s class, and when I showed up for my first day at the center, I was greeted with the news that I would be participating in the Claremont conference.
That was only the beginning of a rewarding relationship with CSE. Working with the center and its faculty focused my academic pursuits on Europe. Because of the center, I participated (twice) in the Claremont undergraduate conference, which resulted in a scholarship to study in Brussels and one of my papers being published in the conference proceedings. I also had the opportunity to represent BYU at the West Coast Model EU competition at the University of Washington in Seattle—once as the finance minister for Hungary and once as a member of the council presidency representing the UK. The competition gave me the opportunity to interact with the organizing faculty and prepare the BYU team to compete. In addition to those unique occasions, I also attended numerous lectures sponsored by CSE, which taught me a great deal about Europe.
My experience was not unusual among BYU students associated with the center. Students not directly involved with the center have also benefitted from its programs. The CSE lectures have brought renowned academics to campus. CSE has given nearly $100,000 to the Lee Library to enhance its monograph, book, and journal holdings on Europe. This has helped the library fill significant gaps in various collections, which in turn made more resources available to students and faculty. The benefits also reach far beyond the undergraduate student community. CSE has made possible a number of European course offerings, faculty research grants, outreach to local K–12, media, and business communities.
“I am confident many more BYU students will expand their passion for Europe through the activities the center offers.”
For a time, CSE participated in the Good Governance Consortium, a transatlantic exchange that sends U.S. students to Europe and European students to the U.S. Undergraduate or graduate students spent one semester in Vienna, Austria; Louvain, Belgium; Turku, Finland; or Cagliari, Italy taking courses in public policy and other specialized courses while earning BYU credits. The center covered most of the travel and costs associated with the study abroad component. The center also helped provide many other study abroad and internship opportunities, such as those to the Scottish Parliament and others in NGOs and various organizations in Geneva, Brussels, and other parts of Europe.
A number of faculty grants were offered for scholarship in Europe, which subsequently turned into faculty publications. The center also sponsored the Rocky Mountain European Scholars Consortium, a two-day conference attended by dozens of academics. This was especially important for the region because CSE was the only center of its kind in the Rocky Mountain area. The RMESC continues to flourish with conferences being held at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona.
CSE is in the process of applying for another Title VI grant that will benefit students and faculty alike. I was excited to participate in the data collection for the Title VI grant proposal. Under Dr. Jacoby’s direction, we will try to increase the opportunity for those interested in Europe to have a venue to expand their knowledge and passion for the old continent.
It was because of the center and the mentors I have found there that I have decided to make Europe central to my career. I am confident many more BYU students will expand their passion for Europe through the activities the center offers. As for myself, I am off to pursue a doctoral degree in political science.
Following his undergraduate work in political science at BYU, Costa completed an MPA at the Marriott School. Both degrees prepared him well for his current job at Volkswagen Trucks and Buses in São Paulo, Brazil, where he does government relations for the company.