Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program on World War II
The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program's (NSP) academic focus is the Second World War. While a strong interest in the origins of the War and its multiple aspects is a prerequisite, the Program is in fact much more. According to its alumni, it is also a life-enhancing experience.
The NSP brings together each spring semester about 20 students from different backgrounds and different majors who take the same courses, share the same challenges, travel together in May with the NSP faculty, and form a community of friends whose bonds last a lifetime. Beyond the study of history, the readings, the papers assigned, the guest lectures, the film showings, the meetings with WWII combatants and Holocaust survivors, and the opportunity to visit WWII sites in Europe, perhaps the most striking feature of the program is the personal development and intellectual growth it fosters.
Students who meet the program requirements and are looking for an extraordinary educational experience are invited to inquire and apply.
Testimonials from the Class of 2012
NSP class of 2012 in Berlin; Photo by Calorine Corcoran, NSP '12
"When I first heard about the Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program in my freshman year of college, I felt that I had to take advantage of such a unique opportunity before I graduated. This was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Our intimate classes, diverse selection of reading and writing assignments, and excellent professors enhanced my ability to analyze and synthesize information, to form and express my opinions, to engage in critical discussions with my classmates, and to effectively organize and defend my thoughts in writing. This past spring will probably prove to be the most emotionally, morally, and academically challenging semester of my college career, but I valued every page of reading and each minute of discussion, and I'm still eager to learn more. Just as rewarding were the relationships I formed with my classmates and professors; our bonds exceeded any and all of my expectations. On a personal level, the academic and travel components of our program, along with the conversations I shared with my grandfather about his service on the European front and with my grandmother about her childhood in Nazi Germany and her Jewish husband's escape from Berlin, increased my appreciation for our freedom and the sacrifices so many individuals made to give us that gift. My semester as a Normandy Scholar will undoubtedly be one of the best experiences of my life."
— Alexandra Arumbula, Biomedical Engineering, Plan II
"The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program was the best semester I have had at UT so far. Learning from some of UT's best professors in a classroom with only 20 students is such a unique opportunity. The professors are so passionate about what they are teaching that it motivates you to keep up with the rigorous coursework. The friendships that develop while taking 15 hours of class together only get stronger once on the Europe trip. The program introduced me to some of the most interesting and intelligent students on the 40 Acres. Getting to travel to Europe to see what you have spent an entire semester learning about is so rewarding. Walking down Omaha Beach or past the Reichstag is so much better than simply reading about these sites in a book. NSP truly makes history come alive."
— Caroline Corcoran, Government, French, History (Liberal Arts Honors)
"The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program is an unparalleled educational experience. Academically rigorous, intellectually stimulating, and wholly rewarding, NSP equips students with a plethora of knowledge that allows us to better understand our world, past and present. Analyzing a key historical era in Austin from four different perspectives, then traveling to Europe to experience and explore all that we learned about was unbelievably meaningful and truly brought history to life. I will forever cherish the bonds formed with the incredible students and professors in the program."
— Daley Epstein, Business, Plan II
"The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program is a one-of-a-kind experience. Academically, the program is rigorous, thought-provoking, and demanding. The content of lecture and reading is fascinating and unsettling. As complex as the material may be, the professors do a great job of approaching perhaps the most important development of the 20th century. Personally, students in the program develop close friendships that extend outside the classroom. The European travel phase is the culmination of a semester of hard work and rewarding experiences. To stand in the very places where history took place—the War Cabinet Rooms, Omaha Beach, the Reichstag—is surreal. It makes history tangible— something a book or lecture can't always accomplish. The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program has been and probably will be the most rewarding and important academic endeavor of my time at the university. "
— Josh Fuller, History, Philosophy
"Applying to and participating in the program has easily been the best decision of my college career. The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program offers an extremely rigorous and rewarding curriculum. I entered the program with the assumption that I had no personal ties to WWII, but when I said goodbye to my classmates and professors in Berlin, I understood the impact that the war had on me. Everyday in class I was challenged in a new way, whether it was tackling the question of collaboration or trying to comprehend the war’s most inhumane aspects. The opportunity to develop an intellectual and fraternal community among nineteen other students and five amazing professors isn’t something many undergraduates get to experience. Even more rewarding is the chance to travel to Europe with this group and truly bring history to life. NSP gave me more than just textbook knowledge of the war. It gave me cherished friendships and experiences that have left an indelible mark on my Longhorn career. I highly recommend this program to anybody who is ready for its challenges and rewards."
— Andrew Wilson, Plan II
"The Spring 2012 semester with the Frank DeniusNormandy Scholar Program was one of my most enjoyable and enlightening experiences as a UT student. It established an environment that encouraged learning and challenged me to think more clearly, write more precisely, and speak more candidly about difficult subjects. The professors made the program special by taking personal interests in what I learned and how I developed as a student. Although my classmates and I were not always comfortable with certain topics, our professors urged us to explore these issues and apply the situations to our own lives. The trip throughout Europe helped to convey the enormity of the conflict. Americans remember the war as a victorious event because we did not have to fight on domestic soil while the homes of Europeans were the battlefields. I also met a unique group of classmates whom I now consider close friends. We would not know each other as well without the tight-knit environment that the Normandy Program created. We were all very different, but the differences in all of our interests and goals made the Normandy Scholars an appealing group of students. We worked hard as a unit and shared many special moments during our voyages throughout Europe, and more importantly, we developed relationships that will last for a long time."
— Peter Liddell, History
Testimonials from the Class of 2011
NSP class of 2011 at Westminster Abbey
"The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Every day we had the benefit of small classes with the same people, making it much easier for us study as a group. Working as closely with all five our professors as we did greatly enriched our learning experience. By the end of the semester, all of us had become better writers and researchers. Of course, going to Europe together was the pinnacle of the entire program. To actually stand at the places where history had been made gave us an opportunity to learn in a way that a simple classroom course cannot replicate. The best part of the trip, however, was being with all of our other classmates and the professors. We all grew even closer as a group, and seeing the professors outside of class differed from the traditional relationship between students and professors but proved highly enjoyable. I will always consider the Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program as a watershed period in my life."
— Tarik Harris, History
"The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program will be, without a doubt, the most incredible experience I’ll have in college. While the academics were challenging, I wouldn’t trade the community built with the professors and fellow Scholars for anything. The trip to Europe is perfect — the program created the greatest three weeks of my life that I spent with some of the greatest friends I’ll ever make. I would do this program every semester for the rest of college if I could! (Please?!)"
— Laura Bonahoom, History
"The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program was one of the most demanding and difficult experiences of my college career. It was also the most rewarding, exciting, and life altering. Not only did I study one of the most fascinating periods of history (with five of the best professors) but I also made friendships that will last a lifetime. Traveling in Europe, visiting the sites we studied so thoroughly, made history real and relevant in a way I had never experienced before. Normandy Scholars was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will never forget."
— Blair McBride, History (Liberal Arts Honors)
"Normandy Scholars 2011 really opened my eyes to the ways in which history affects our world today. The professors, the courses, and the friends you make are what set this program apart from any other you'll ever experience. NSP will improve your reading and writing skills tremendously and will give you a chance to travel to Europe with extraordinary teachers and classmates. I'm very thankful and proud to be a Normandy Scholar."
— Nolan Oldham, History, Government (Liberal Arts Honors)
"Normandy Scholars was the highlight of my college career. The program gave me the opportunity to learn from the best professors at UT in classes of only 20 students. Normandy Scholars draws a committed, intelligent, and fun group of students who enter the program with a common interest. In this group of exceptional Longhorns I found some of my best friends. Staying in houses together in the Normandy countryside strengthened the bond between our group members in a unique way. We played soccer, cooked dinner, and visited the sites we spent this semester studying. I sincerely hope that everyone who passes through UT can experience an academic and social program like Normandy Scholars."
— Sierra Shear, Government (Liberal Arts Honors)
"The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program provided me with an education unlike anything else. We answered discussion questions in one class with material we learned in another as we studied World War II from four distinct angles. Traveling to war-related locations in Europe brought that knowledge to life. We also shared common experiences ranging from late nights studying together in Austin to cooking together in Normandy. I cannot imagine a better way to develop bonds with other students."
— Samuel Rhea, Plan II
"The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program is an intense experience that is both challenging and rewarding. It gave me the opportunity to meet and form relationships with twenty other students and five teachers. Traveling to the very war sites and memorials that we studied strengthened our knowledge on World War II. I enjoyed my experience in the Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program and highly recommend it."
— Eric Lai, Plan II and History
Testimonials from the Class of 2010
NSP class of 2010 at monument for United States' 30th Infantry Division that fought with horrific loss of life, but successfully resisted the first large-scale German counter-attack after D-Day; hilltop near Mortain, Normandy; Photo by Nickie Tran, NS '10
"The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program was everything I wanted to get out of college but condensed into a single semester. I learned from the top professors, I made life long friends, and I traveled to places I had only read about. The program had a personal side for me as well because I got to trace my grandfather's steps when he helped to liberate France. The classes combined with the study aboard really made me appreciate all the people who gave their last measure of devotion to defeat fascism and helped make the world a better place. I'm very proud to be a Normandy Scholar Alumnus. There is really nothing like it."
— Dylan Rebstock, History
"The greatest benefit of the Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program is its structure — four different national perspectives on World War II. This intense focus on a single historical period resulted in students interacting with the course material at a depth which none of us had ever experienced before. The small size of the program also cultivated a feeling of openness among the participants. During class we debated serious topics and contributed our honest thoughts and emotions. Even when spending time together recreationally, we commonly discussed issues covered in the classroom. NSP is a premier academic experience."
— Noah Jaffe, History and Government
"The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program was by far my most rewarding academic experience at UT. To get to study such an important part of history with some of the best professors and brightest students, and then go to Europe to essentially live the history, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I wish I could redo the Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program every semester over and over until I graduate."
— Angela Daniel, Plan II Honors and Management
"Studying WWII with such intensity becomes more than a challenging academic semester. The NSP is a personal experience, forcing you to situate your own life in an historical context defined by that epic conflict. I strongly recommend the NSP to students prepared to immerse themselves in history."
— Jacob Sims, History and Plan I Honors
"The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program has been by far the greatest experience of my college career. The Professors are some of the best UT has to offer and I cherish all of the advice and skills I have accrued from them. I would wholeheartedly recommend this program on the basis of the curriculum alone. However, as icing on the cake, there was also the fantastic trip where I got the unique opportunity to visit many of the important sites of World War II in person. Walking the beaches of Normandy, and seeing for myself the grounds of a concentration camp are memories I will never forget as long as I live. Having our professors to guide us every step of the way was an additional treat. The only negative thing I can say about this program is that it had to eventually come to an end. Thank you very much for giving me a chance to undertake this incredible journey. It has irrevocably changed my life."
— Kyle Bush, History and Government
"Normandy was the best semester of my life, in terms of personal and academic growth. The example I usually give when I'm gushing about this program is the week we studied the battle of Stalingrad—from the Russian perspective in one class and the German perspective in another. No matter what I end up doing after UT, the analytical skills and knowledge I gained from this semester will serve me well!"
— Rebecca Counts, Plan II Honors and History
Testimonials from the Class of 2009
Paris, Place de la Concorde, May 24, 2009. (In the background: the Rue Royale and La Madeleine Church.) Photo by Prof. Jean-Pierre Cauvin
"This has been one of the greatest experiences of my college career. Everyday I was challenged in a new way to react to some aspect of the war, be it atrocity or sheer humanity. That's really the best part of the program—that it makes you react—to take some kind of moral, ethical, or situational stance on the most dire of subjects. Learning about one phenomenon from four different perspectives is easily one of the most holistic academic experiences UT has to offer, and I whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone interested in a challenge."
— Hal Hlavinka, English major
"The friendships and experiences this trip and program have given me will last a lifetime, especially the Omaha Beach/American Cemetery ceremony."
— Michael Redding, Plan II and History major
"For me, the NSP has established a strong foundation of modern Western culture and history. It not only encouraged excellence in scholarship, but also cooperation and friendship, which continues to be so important amidst globalization. I would highly recommend the NSP to anyone seeking to understand the historical context that continues to shape the world today."
— Eunki Hong, Biology and History major
"NSP has been my most fulfilling experience at UT. Unlike most other classes, the material we covered was not only academically interesting, but also personally moving."
— Dane Miller, Plan II and Government major
"This has been incredible...Never has history been so real and important to me. Thank you all."
— Anna Harris, History major
"I don't think I will ever have a better travel memory than climbing through bunkers and shell holes at Pointe du Hoc. I have greatly enjoyed the community that developed during the semester and during our trip. This has been my favorite semester in college. It is hard to believe that our adventure together is coming to an end.... Thank you for putting together the Normandy Scholars Program.... I feel sorry for future years who will not be able to learn from Professor Cauvin. The program will miss him.... Thank you for organizing this and enduring our antics. This has been an experience that I will never forget."
— Katherine Jordan, Plan II and History major
Testimonials from the Class of 2008
The 2008 Normandy Scholars with French Resistance activist and Ravensbrück Concentration Camp survivor Jeannie de Clarens in Paris.
"I wanted to thank you so much for this past semester and month abroad in the Normandy program. I have nothing but positive things to say and I know it was probably a nightmare to coordinate, but it was well worth it. I can't explain how rewarding this past semester has been, not limited to academics. I know I'm not alone in saying how valuable and amazing the overall experience was. The whole student group became so close to each other and the professors, so leaving was very hard. I'm looking forward to our reunions in the fall so I hope to see you there!" (Written specifically to NSP director.)
— Andrew Cross, Electrical Engineering and Plan II major
"I heard many great things about this program before it started, but it is impossible to believe what an experience NSP is until the end. I have made some of my closest friends this semester with a different, unique group of individuals you cannot find just taking normal courses at UT. The opportunity to learn, debate, and travel with such a close group of peers and respected professors is worth all the work. The new perspectives and understanding of WW II helped me to better grasp the world around me. Thanks for everything!"
— Garrick Smith, History and Government major
"I loved our itinerary and am glad I had the opportunity to visit so many historical places. Having the professors with us was 75% of what made the trip. They were there to fill in my many knowledge gaps that made Europe so much better. I really had the best time. Everything we visited was relevant and awesome! Can I apply again for next year?
— Jamie Brod, Government major
"This has been the greatest experience of all my 35 years. I have 25 new friends and countless stories. Programs like the NSP (if there are any) are why I came to the University of Texas. Thank you professors--Hook 'em!"
— Chris Corbitt, History major
"Best experience of my college career! The classes, people, and professors are some of the best I've encountered at UT. I'd strongly recommend this program to anyone."
— Kristin Schneider, Plan II and Human Biology major
"Thanks for my best semester at UT! I learned so much and enjoyed every second (even staying up all night writing papers!)."
— Alyshia Ledlie, History major
"The greatest thing about this program is its scope. You never stop learning, both about the history and about yourself."
— Chris Connolly, Human biology (pre-med) major
"Thanks for the most amazing semester I've had at UT."
— Chandra Srivastava, History and Economics major
"I loved the freedom we had to explore on our own, but it was great being with the professors because if offered another level of knowledge. Walking along Omaha and visiting the Normandy coast truly brought history to life. I feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of the program this semester. The trip (and the program) has definitely inspired me to think about the world around me and feel more secure about my place in it. Studying WW II really came to life in Europe. I'm going to miss NSP!
— Elena Dufner, Plan II major
"This was an amazing program! It was the most challenging semester at UT, but easily the most rewarding. I would do it all again in a heartbeat!
— Lauren Conner, History major
"I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to participate in this program. Every single day was filled with amazing experiences. I feel that I have learned so much and gained new appreciations. Without a doubt, the best experience of my college career and something I will remember my entire life. The greatest professors and community that anyone could ever want.
— Lauryn Radice, History and Plan II Honors major
Testimonials from the Class of 2007
The 2007 Normandy Scholars at the Imperial War Museum in London.
"The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program has been an amazing, life-changing experience. I spent a semester getting to know 19 of the best students and 5 of the best professors that UT has to offer. Moreover, I got to know myself better and realize what potential I truly hold. The trip to Europe was the perfect culmination to the program. I doubt anyone can find a better program at UT Austin. It was truly the high point of my college career."
— Nathan McCray, History major
"Traveling through Europe with the world's greatest professors was a truly amazing experience. It was the most challenging semester of my college career, and also the most fun. Thank you for organizing a great program."
— Aaron Goldfarb, History/Economics major
"The most amazing experiences that I had in NSP were meeting unbelievably great people who touched me deeply; French resistance women, a D-Day invasion soldier, Holocaust survivors, not to mention, five wonderful professors, 19 students, and NSP administrators."
— Jiyeon Choi, Physics/Pre-law major
"Wonderful trip, great professors, an amazing experience."
— Mary Katherine Vigness, History/Theater & Dance major
"NSP has been the most rewarding component of my academic career. The subject matter was sometimes awesome, sometimes sad and sometimes romantic; but it was always intriguing. The professors in Normandy have been among the best professors I have ever had and they are even better friends. The wonderful trip across European war sites is but a bonus of everything the program has given me."
— Eduardo Gardea, Government major
"Great trip! A great culmination to all we studied. Had a great time with the masks coming off."
— Normandy Scholar 2007
"Great trip, had the time of my college career. You've added an incredible component to our WWII instruction."
— Normandy Scholar 2007
"This has been a very enjoyable experience. Every professor and student came together to make it a true college highlight. My only complaint was it was too short. Au revoir."
— Normandy Scholar 2007
"I had a terrific experience on the trip. Thank you so much for organizing a fantastic program."
— Normandy Scholar 2007
Testimonials from the Class of 2006
"I knew this program would be special and rewarding when I applied. I never imagined how life-changing it would be. I interacted with twenty incredible people and five great professors on a daily basis.... The classes I took through the program were some of the most challenging of my life. They were also the most rewarding. It was great to have in-depth discussions about such historically significant events."
— Kelli Benham, Government/Economics major
"This program is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Seeing the actual sites in Europe brings the war alive and makes it seem more real. I have a substantially greater appreciation for the overall war effort as well as for the individuals who fought.... I absolutely loved the program and will always cherish NSP.... The program and the experience proved invaluable.... Thanks to all of you for an unparalleled semester."
— David Stern, History/Government major
"This program was awesome. It taught me how to write a lot better and appreciate how open and free the U.S. is.... I have become a lot more interested in foreign affairs and war crimes. I am planning on attending law school and I am leaning towards studying criminal law or international criminal law [as a result of being in the NSP].... The trip was so amazing!.... The classes were so interesting, I loved them."
— Jennifer Stabe, History/Spanish major
"At the beginning of this program, everyone tells you how much it will change your life, and I'm not sure how much I believed that.... [but] NSP created this sort of intellectual and social environment that had been lacking in my time at UT.... I still can't believe I wrote all of those papers. I am/was impressed by the Professors' knowledge as well as the expertise of many of my fellow NSPers. It felt good to be embraced for my intelligence (and sometimes lack thereof). I am so grateful to have been able to participate in this program. I'm not exactly sure if I could ever explain how it has changed me, but it has. I certainly appreciate more."
— Annie Brooks, History/Business major (decided to minor in German since the NSP)
"This program has helped me leave that self-absorbed little bubble that many teenagers live in.... I see now that many parts of our culture and others are interconnected and overlap; that the relationships we forge, creates a kind of history; that the personalities of the people running the countries has a high impact on the views of the citizens.... Plus, I learned that my professors can actually be my friends."
— Elissa Sloan, Undeclared major (decided to major in History since the NSP)
"I can't say enough good things. I can only hope that my future endeavors allow me to give back to the program, in whatever way/means possible. Here is your quote: 'The student that began the semester was not the same as the scholar that got off the plane.' Somewhere along the way the books and films became not only historical words and images, but also a part of my own personal history."
— Chris Sokol, History/Government/English major
"Honestly this program was one of the best semesters I've had at UT. I had the chance to meet friends that I would have never met otherwise and work with some of the best professors at UT. Although I worked so hard this semester, I also had the best time. I have been blessed to be part of this program and it is something that I will never forget."
— Bethany Zwick, History/Judaic Studies major
"This program was really, truly great.... What made [the program] so unique was the way we would learn about something and then see concrete evidence of it when we travelled to Europe.... It was great having the same 20 people in all the classes as well, because we were able to feel more comfortable. For the first time since high school—we knew all our classmates."
— Marissa Foix, History/Government major
"The Program was great and so were the professors.... I consider myself very lucky to have been given the chance to participate. Thank y'all so much for the opportunity."
— Addie Bryant, Government/Comm. Studies major
Testimonials from the Class of 2005
"I love every single one of you. I will always remember this.... It has changed the way I write, the way I think and the way I live my life. Thank you."
— Art Perez, Radio/TV/Film major
"It's actually made me appreciate America as a nation more.... It has made me more interested in international affairs and American politics, and made me more introspective in general."
— Neysa King, History major
"Opened my horizons to new aspects I had never before experienced in college. Helped me a lot culturally and intellectually."
— Ray Mody, Human Biology major
"I have learned humility as a consequence of constantly being challenged to put myself in the position of people in WWII.... It is a lot of work, but the combination of the workload, the readings, the relationships with the professors and classmates made for a learning ‘chemistry’ that sharpened my thinking, my priorities, and my ambitions."
— Kristina Rodemann, Plan II/History major
"I endured the hardest semester of my life with the closest friends I’ve made in college, and followed it with the greatest trip of my life with my favorite humans who happen to be professors. This has been a turning point not only in my academic career, but in my growth as a person."
— Derek Davidson, History major