University of Iowa

Diversity of study abroad offerings allowed UI football player Jake Gervase to earn academic credit in Havana, Cuba

June 26th, 2018

A demanding football schedule left Jake Gervase (BBA, finance and management ’18) doubtful he could incorporate a study abroad experience into his undergraduate career—that is, until he learned about global spring break opportunities. Gervase jumped at the opportunity to travel to Cuba through the International Entrepreneurship and Culture short-term study abroad course led by UI faculty members Dimy Doresca (UI Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center) and Jim Dreier (UI School of Music). Gervase plans to use his fifth year of eligibility to continue his UI football career during the 2018-2019 academic year. While doing so, he will be pursuing a graduate degree in sport and recreation management. We caught up with Gervase recently to learn more about his study abroad experience in Cuba.

Photo of Jake Gervase in Cuba

Photo of Jake Gervase in Havana, Cuba

Hometown:  Davenport, Iowa

Field of study:  UI graduate (BBA finance, management ’18); starting a graduate program this fall to study sport and recreation management

Campus leadership and involvement:

  • UI Football Team
  • Hawkeye Pride volunteer

How did you decide to study abroad in Cuba?

I had always wanted to study abroad, but never thought I would be able to because of my football schedule being year around. I found out about this program through Bob Walker who is a professor in the entrepreneurship program and knew it would be a great opportunity to study abroad! I was majoring in both finance and management, with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. This course allowed me to not only check off a required course, but also to learn about entrepreneurship in a whole different culture.

What is your most memorable experience from Cuba?

My most memorable experience would definitely be interacting with the Cuban people and getting the chance to live with a host family. Everyone I met was so nice and welcoming, and it was awesome to be able to live with a host family that talked with us about the history of Cuba and its people.

What did you gain as a result of studying abroad?

Given my interest in entrepreneurship, it was exciting to work with a women’s co-op in Havana, Cuba, to learn about their business structure and some of the problems they face. As a group, we tried to form solutions and give them advice moving forward. It was interesting to learn about the culture of a different country, and the business structure of Cuba—and how vastly different it is from ours here in the U.S.

On a personal level, I now know that I want to travel once I am finished with school and football. Studying abroad solidified my plans to travel in the future.

Do you have any advice for other UI students considering studying abroad?

If you have the opportunity to study abroad, take it! It was seriously so much fun to be able to learn about a completely different culture and interact with their people. This was definitely an experience that I will always remember.

Learn more about Gervase’s study abroad experience here:

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