Robert Powers was a bit unsure when he arrived at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise four years ago, but that quickly changed when he immersed himself into academic work, travel abroad, and undergraduate research.

The Dungannon, Virginia native found he had an affinity for language and history, and he soon realized that faculty and staff at the College went beyond the norm when it came to helping students grow stronger and experience all aspects of life. Powers said the College created many opportunities for him and his fellow students.

His freshman year was a memorable one because Powers decided to travel to Ireland with a Study Abroad group, and he said that was one of the best decisions of his life. It was soon afterward that Powers, with the encouragement of Dean Amelia Harris, spent six months in Dortmund, Germany learning more about the culture and honing his German language skills. He met friends that he still keeps in contact with all over Europe. Powers has made several more trips abroad, including Scotland, England, and a two-week World War I tour that he won’t soon forget.

“I’m a lot more outgoing and confident in myself,” Powers said. “You don’t get opportunities like this at a lot of colleges. It was the moment I knew I had a passion for traveling. I really needed that boost.”

Powers said the generous financial support from the College was a tremendous help in his undergraduate research and travel abroad. He decided to double major in History and German, and he managed to finish both in four years, which is quite a feat for the young man who works as a tutor in the Writing Center and with various summer programs.

Various graduate schools were on Powers’ list, but Louisiana State University got the nod because it boasts one of the most renown intellectual historians in the nation. He views LSU as the perfect place for him to complete his master’s degree and eventually a doctorate program.

“I’m just an average kid from Southwest Virginia, but I’ve had all these opportunities at UVa-Wise,” Powers said. “You don’t have to be exceptional, you just have to work hard.”

Powers is graduating Summa Cum Laude and with College Honors from the Peake Honors Program. The program requires students to take three interdisciplinary honors seminars, attend eight honors cultural events and produce a capstone project.

He plans to spend the summer on campus working with the Upward Bound program before he heads to LSU and his new venture.