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An LVC Study Abroad Pioneer: Kenneth Stoltz '72
11.19.13 |
With a director of study abroad to advise students every step of the way, seamless transference of financial aid and college credits through partnerships with international universities, and at least 13 countries to choose from each year, LVC makes studying abroad a relatively easy process. That was not necessarily the case for alumni such as Ken Stoltz ’72.

When Stoltz arrived at LVC as a history major, he originally wanted to be a teacher-coach but quickly changed his major to Spanish during his freshman year. After doing so, he decided to study in Madrid, Spain during his junior year of 1970–1971. Unfortunately, there were no formal campus programs at the time. While there were those on campus willing to help, including Capt. Charles Cooper, assistant professor emeritus of Spanish, and Dr. Ralph Shay ’42, the late history professor, assistant dean, and registrar, Stoltz had to primarily rely on outside assistance to achieve his dream.

Stoltz had realized that he wanted to become a Spanish teacher, in addition to coaching. “Professor Cooper encouraged me to study abroad because he knew it would really help with my language skills and knowledge of the culture, and would be a great advantage when it came time to get a job,” Stoltz said. However, it was rare for an LVC student of that era to study overseas. Stoltz was only aware of a few classmates who had studied abroad—Deborah Strickler Freer ’71 had studied in France and one of his Kappa Lambda Sigma fraternity brothers, Jerry Beardsley ’70, had studied in Mexico—so there weren’t many on campus who could share their wisdom about undertaking such an adventure.

He did, however, receive a lot of encouragement from classmates and his teammates on the men’s basketball team. Stoltz knew that giving up basketball would be difficult, but was wise beyond his years. “Many of my friends were surprised that I was giving up basketball, especially knowing that we had a great team that year” he said. “As much as I loved basketball, my career was more important to me.”

Stoltz found information from four schools with international programs posted on the walls of the Humanities Building and soon established a working partnership with St. Louis University. Through old-fashioned mail correspondence and a couple of phone calls, Stoltz was able to work with Father Sullivant, who oversaw the St. Louis program in Spain, to register for courses, arrange for housing, and get plane tickets. “I flew on Pan Am and paid the student fare, $80 each way, for my tickets,” Stoltz remembered with a laugh.

Fortunately, Stoltz already had a friend when he arrived at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas. During his freshman year at LVC, Stoltz had met Guillermo Aledo, a Spanish department student assistant. By the time Stoltz arrived in Madrid, Guillermo had already returned home. “Guillermo is a wonderful man with whom I keep in regular contact to this day,” Stoltz said. “His family really took care of me when I studied in Madrid, including feeding me the best paella I have had to this day.”

Stoltz, despite being in Spain during the tail end of the Francisco Franco dictatorship, made the most of his experience by visiting England, France, Germany, Morocco, and Switzerland during various breaks that year. He also played basketball on two teams that did some travel, including to Portugal, and was the only American on one of the teams.

After returning home and graduating from LVC, Stoltz taught Spanish at Cumberland Valley High School for four years before moving on to a 31-year career in the Boiling Springs School District. Before retiring in 2007, he had fulfilled another dream when he became the head coach for boys’ basketball in 1978. Stoltz also served as athletic director for seven years and coached boys and girls junior high basketball, among other roles.

Stoltz has returned to Spain numerous times, including about 10 trips with his high school students, and still retains a love of languages. He is conversant in French and Italian, and is currently learning Mandarin. He is also very pleased with his alma mater.

“I feel proud to have been one of the ‘pioneers’ in the area of overseas studies,” Stoltz said. “I am also proud to know that Lebanon Valley College is doing such a fantastic job in providing current students with so many wonderful opportunities to study around the world.” 

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