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Wertz Scholar finds “life skills” during study abroad in Barcelona

Wertz Scholar finds “life skills” during study abroad in Barcelona

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When deciding where to pursue a bachelor’s degree, Williamsport native John Confair ’23 didn’t have to travel far from home to find his best-fit at Lycoming College. But after winning a Wertz scholarship for high achieving students, he travelled across the ocean to spend a semester studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain.

“I knew I was interested in a smaller school: I wanted hands-on experiences and one-on-one mentorship from faculty. Large state schools were not a good fit with my academic goals,” said Confair. “I had been hearing from a few different people that a study abroad experience would be life-changing, but I wasn’t sure it was an option until I learned that I was awarded a Wertz scholarship at Lycoming. The Wertz Program made study abroad a much stronger possibility and I jumped at the chance!”

Named for D. Frederick Wertz, who served as Lycoming College president from 1955-1968, the Wertz Scholars Program supports students who graduate in the top 10% of their high school class. The program includes a stipend of up to $5,000 to be used toward an enhanced academic experience — including support for internships, faculty-led research, or global education — during their time at Lycoming. Students also receive the option to reside in the Wertz Scholars First-Year Residential Community, to participate in the Wertz mentor program, and periodic dinners with College administrators in support of career planning.

“Studying abroad provided an education on certain life skills and values that could not have been learned in a classroom,” said Confair, who made the most of his time in Spain by visiting other nearby cities, as well as his Lycoming roommate who was studying abroad in Germany at the time.

Originally interested in engineering or physics, Confair soon developed a curiosity for economics and established a major in quantitative economics, while holding onto a minor in physics. “Economics can be applied to so many more areas than finance. It can help you understand the world better,” he said, adding that he’s been able to complete several economics-related research projects with his advisor, Elizabeth Moorhouse, Ph.D., associate professor of economics.

Athletics was also a draw for Confair, who is a three-time member of the MAC Academic Honor Roll as a member of the men’s soccer team. “Not only have I loved the game for as long as I can remember, being on the team has been a social outlet and my teammates are a source of support for me. It’s also taught me to be disciplined about my studies,” he said, adding that soccer even helped him make friends with locals in Barcelona.

Confair is still deciding what path to pursue after graduation in May, and is keeping his options open, while Moorhouse and career advisor Lori Patterson provide guidance along the way.

He’ll never forget his time in Spain and would relish the opportunity to live or work abroad again.

Eligible students interested in the Wertz Scholars Program must apply and be admitted to Lycoming College by February 1. Upon admission, eligible students will receive an invitation from Lycoming’s President to interview. More information on the Wertz Scholars Program at Lycoming College is available at