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Cindy and Roger Cagle have helped nearly 400 students earn study abroad scholarships.

International travelers: CAGLE celebrates decade of providing study abroad scholarships

Friday, June 21, 2024

Media Contact: Terry Tush | Director, Marketing and Communications | 405-744-2703 | terry.tush@okstate.edu

Rafael Rodriguez wasn’t much of a world traveler when he arrived at Oklahoma State University in 2012. That changed when the son of Puerto Rican immigrants moved from his Stillwater home to OSU student housing as a freshman.

By the time he walked across the Gallagher-Iba Arena stage four years later to receive his diploma, Rodriguez was not only a world traveler, he was also sold on the benefits of exploring the world and appreciating other cultures. Through the Spears School of Business’ Center for Advanced Global Leadership and Engagement (CAGLE), Rodriguez experienced three life-changing study abroad trips as a student.

“From a professional standpoint, these trips provided me with an appreciation for unique cultures around the world and a sense of how interdependent global commerce is,” Rodriguez said. “From a personal standpoint, the trips allowed me to get out of my comfort zone of living in a small town and gain a love of exploring the world and appreciating other cultures.”

In May 2014, Rodriguez was part of a course in Australia with a sports management emphasis, including the group touring the 2000 Sydney Olympics facilities. The students learned about Australia’s sustained use of the facilities for their professional sporting teams.

He next traveled to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) in 2015. This course focused on small businesses/merchants in developing countries, as well as gaining an understanding of the region. The students toured portions of Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Ho Chi Minh City, and visited the famous Angkor Wat temple in Siam Reap, Cambodia.

His favorite experience was over spring break in 2016 when a group of OSU students traveled to Cuba while the country was briefly open to student visas. The group explored the economic implications of the government opening back up for tourism to United States citizens. They also had the rare experience of visiting the Partagas cigar factory, meeting with local farmers and exploring the historic Havana Latin Jazz club La Zorra y El Cuervo.

“These trips enabled me to more effectively connect and work with my international colleagues and better embrace the unique cultures and worldviews that they bring to the workplace,” Rodriguez said.

Rafael Rodriguez and his wife, Emily, established a scholarship to provide study abroad opportunities.
Rafael Rodriguez enjoyed studying abroad, thanks to CAGLE scholarships. This inspired Rodriguez and his wife, Emily, to establish their own study abroad scholarship for OSU students.

None of those would have been possible without financial assistance. Rodriguez received two CAGLE scholarships — for the Australian trip in 2014 and the visit to Cuba in 2016 — and the Thailand trip was part of the Spears Scholar Leader program, in which students receive a fully paid study abroad trip.

Rodriguez and hundreds of other business students have been able to travel abroad thanks to the generosity of Roger and Cindy Cagle, the namesakes for the CAGLE, which coordinates and supports all global activities in Spears Business. The Cagles provided a gift in 2014 to fund the center. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the center, which engages with students, faculty, global alumni, academic partners, industry leaders and government officials to prepare Spears business students for leadership positions in a dynamic international business environment.

In 2014, the first year of the CAGLE, Rodriguez was one of 22 students to receive a scholarship to participate in a study abroad trip. In the past 10 years, over $450,000 in scholarships has been awarded to 396 OSU students to help pay for the experience.

“The impact of Roger and Cindy’s gift is making a difference in the lives of our students,” said Dr. Marlys Mason, who oversees the CAGLE as associate dean for undergraduate programs. “Many of the students would not have been able to participate in these international experiences without scholarships. Through Roger and Cindy’s generosity, students are experiencing the global business environment in person.”

Rodriguez said he thinks studying abroad should be a requirement for all business students in the current global marketplace.

“It is highly unlikely that students will go even a few years of their careers without having some sort of global colleagues or contacts, whether it is their managers, co-workers or vendors,” he said. “Therefore, the sooner they can start thinking like a global citizen, the better off they will be in business.”

The most popular study abroad site for OSU students is Spain, topping the list with 11 trips.
CAGLE trips have provided students with opportunities to travel the world. The most visited destination is Spain, topping the list with 11 trips.

Roger and Cindy Cagle worked in the oil and gas exploration business for most of their lives and enjoyed living abroad, including spending time in Russia in the 1990s before finally settling in London. Between jobs from 1989-92, they also sailed the South Pacific on a 60-foot yacht with Cindy’s parents.

The couple spent nearly 40 years working worldwide and co-founded oil exploration businesses, including SOCO International, which they managed from London until their retirement in 2018 when they returned to the United States.

“After we did the sailing trip and decided to go back to work, we just knew that we were going to work internationally,” Cindy said. “We definitely wanted to see a variety of countries and spend more time with different kinds of people and do something different. We always knew the United States was our home and we’d come back eventually to retire. But we decided we wanted to spend more of our careers overseas for the gratification that brings to us.”

The Cagles’ love of OSU and providing an opportunity to assist students in traveling abroad while also supporting other global activities in Spears Business led them to create opportunities that students would not otherwise be able to experience.

“There was a lot of misunderstanding about what we were trying to do. It’s not just about paying for a spring break trip or a vacation,” said Roger, who earned both a bachelor’s degree in business administration (1973) and his MBA (1975) from OSU’s business school. “We have taken the approach that the more folks that you can expose to international travel and international experiences, the more people they are going to interact with and the more people they are exposing to it when they come back.

“Our idea is to open that door, and if 1%, 5% or 10% feel led to participate, then that’s magnificent. If just a few students have the desire to get involved, then we’ve created what we are attempting to create.”

Cindy said the two of them enjoy hearing from students when they return from study abroad trips, especially those traveling internationally for the first time.

“Well, I think it’s important for kids to travel if they have an opportunity and the desire because it does change your perspective on the world,” she said. “We see a lot of political news on the television of different countries and what you find, though, if you’re there on the ground in person, people are the same all over, and most people are good. So, I think we find out a lot about both ourselves and people around the world when we travel and exchange those ideas.”

Over the past decade, 2,904 students have studied abroad through the Spears School of Business' CAGLE.
Over the past decade, 2,904 students have studied abroad through the Spears School of Business' CAGLE. Nearly 400 of those students benefited from study abroad scholarships.

Rodriguez is one of those students who the Cagles’ gift has impacted. Now, he wants to make it possible for future Spears Business students to get the same opportunity. He and his wife, Emily, have established the Rafael and Emily Rodriguez Endowed Scholarship for students with financial needs who wish to participate in a study abroad experience.

“I felt extremely fortunate to attend three different study abroad experiences during my time at OSU, and appreciative of the donors who enabled me to do so with their generosity,” said Rodriguez, who is now pursuing his MBA at the University of Texas in Austin. “These trips provided me with a lot of confidence in myself because of the opportunity to learn new cultures and languages and successfully navigate around in unfamiliar settings.

“They also enabled me to broaden my perspective beyond life in small-town Oklahoma, which has been critical to my professional success. Therefore, it was important for me to give back to OSU students and similarly enable them to have these kinds of global experiences as part of their time in Spears.”


Story by: Terry Tush | Engage@Spears magazine
Photos by: Adam Luther and provided

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