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### Alumni Testimonials: Unveiling the Steger Center’s Influence on Love and Life Mission

To suggest that a semester spent at Virginia Tech’s center in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, can be transformative is not merely a cliché. Graduates who have resided and studied at the [ppp1] continue to feel the lasting effects of this experience for years — and even decades — thereafter.

The Steger Center, an integral part of [ppp2], has functioned as Virginia Tech’s European headquarters since 1991, accommodating numerous study abroad initiatives for both undergraduate and graduate students each semester. Due to its prime location in the heart of Europe, many students also have the chance to participate in class excursions or personal weekend getaways to neighboring countries.

“As our alumni can confirm, the Steger Center holds a unique significance,” remarked Executive Director Sara Steinert Borella. “Here, experiential learning truly comes to life for many individuals. Students undergo unforeseen transformations during their time at the center. I witness this phenomenon every semester: Students at the Steger Center evolve, mature, and acquire knowledge in various ways — often leaving a profound impact on their future professional and personal endeavors.”

The Influence: Their Union

In February, Taylor Warburton, a 2020 graduate with a geosciences degree, and Megan Skarkas, a 2021 graduate with a background in architecture, will revisit Switzerland to solemnize their marriage vows.

The couple first crossed paths at the Steger Center in 2019. Pursuing divergent majors in different colleges, their paths might never have intersected if not for their study abroad experience. Both express that their time in Switzerland was so pivotal in shaping their lives that they couldn’t envision tying the knot anywhere else.

“We had the coordinates to Lake Cuomo, near the Steger Center, tattooed on us. It’s only fitting that we exchange vows there,” shared Skarkas.

Both Skarkas and Warburton attribute the personal development they underwent while studying abroad to equipping them with the confidence to confront challenges.

“Graduating during a pandemic when job opportunities were scarce was tough, but my ability to adapt and anticipate the unexpected was honed through my study abroad journey,” reflected Warburton.

Furthermore, studying abroad not only bolstered her self-assurance but also played a role in landing her a job. “In job interviews, I consistently referenced my study abroad encounter as it demonstrated my capacity to navigate unfamiliar territories,” she noted. “If I could navigate Europe as a college student, I can certainly navigate this professional environment.”

Skarkas remarked that the progression in personal growth naturally led to love.

“Self-discovery and love are intertwined,” she explained. “Self-discovery forms the basis for how we connect with others.”