Roosevelt Psychology Senior Ely Adams

By Maria Shmarina

It was 3:00 in the afternoon, or was it early morning? RU Psychology senior Ely Adams can’t exactly remember when or where he was when he first received the email informing him that he had received an Erasmus Grant to study at Tilburg University in the Netherlands and liberating him from weeks of grueling anticipation. But with vivid detail, he can recount moments of his life before and after that day. 

Leading up to the decision, Ely had turned towards his hobby of music to distract himself. During time he spent with friends, he mentioned little of his application out of fear that any number of details concerning the application or studying abroad could go awry. The only memory he has after receiving his approval for the Erasmus Grant is, “feeling a great sense of disbelief, and extremely honored.”

The Erasmus Grant program was launched by the European Union in 1987. The title is an acronym for "EuRopean Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students.” Its original intent was to promote the collaboration of universities across Europe. However, the Erasmus Grants program has since expanded and come to mean so much more. The Erasmus Grant prides itself on giving the opportunity for students all over the world to experience new cultures and explore their academic interests without financial stresses. It has allowed students who would not have the chance otherwise to leave their hometowns and see the world. 

Roosevelt students have been some of the lucky ones to get this chance to study abroad under the Erasmus Grant. This program has been supported by the efforts of our faculty and staff who wish to see their students succeed and grow. Anne-Marie Cusac (Associate Dean of CHESS), Professor LaDonna Long (Associate Chair of the Department of Law, Society and Sustainability) and Professor Margaret Rung (History MA Program Director) have all visited the Netherlands through this program in order to build and maintain a strong working relationship with Tilburg. Long and Rung also formed the selection committee that chose Adams for the grant. 

The Tilburg-RU partnership, more than a decade long, allows Roosevelt students to explore topics on a global scale, learning from professors from different countries. In the past, Roosevelt has held international simultaneous remote classes in collaboration with Tilburg. These bi-national courses explored, for instance, “Miscarriages of Justice,” international perspectives on criminal justice and the international history of trauma. There are plans to expand the cooperation between Tilburg University and Roosevelt University to more programs. It is a privilege for our university to be a recipient of this grant, and there are hopes of more students traveling to Tilburg in the years to come. 

Ely Adams is in his last semester of a bachelor’s of psychology, with a concentration in neuroscience. As the proud recipient of the Erasmus Grant, he will spend his spring in the Netherlands. Adams learned of Tilburg and the Erasmus Grant when Cusac announced the opportunity during her course Communication in the Information Age (COMM 201). Adams reflects that he feels like a “kid going to Disney for the first time.” Growing up in a family forced to live within their means, Adams says he has had little opportunity to travel. As he began his own life as a student, the financial demands of travel abroad remained a deterrent. The Erasmus Grant will allow Adams to live his dream of traveling. 

While the burden of cost has been lifted, Adams says the process of applications and documentation for study abroad was arduous. He says that Cusac, Ken Granle (former RU Director for International Students and Global Scholar Services) and the advisors at Tilburg offered endless support. 

With most of the logistics in place, Adams can reminisce about his pivotal choice to quit baseball to focus on academics and opportunities such as the Erasmus Grant. He believes his exposure to Tilburg’s world-class psychology program and society-oriented agenda will be a stepping-stone to his career goals of becoming a professor himself. With hopes of conducting his own research in fields such as memory and alternative forms of therapy incorporating psychedelics, music, and movement, Adams is eager to be surrounded by others with a shared passion. 

Outside of academics, Adams cannot wait to experience the rich European culture of Tilburg, try Dutch cuisine and travel to neighboring countries in his downtime. With only electives left in his actual degree, Adams is confident he will have the flexibility to get the most out of this experience for himself and his career. 

When looking back at how he got here, he is thankful for this opportunity, as well as his own passions and writing capabilities that put him ahead. His advice to students is to do the same— to follow their passions and to take the opportunity when you get the chance because life is too short.  “I think trying something new, whether it's uncomfortable or not, is worth the experience,” he says.