History | College of Liberal Arts
skip to content The University of Texas at Austin

Normandy Scholar Program on WWII


The Frank Denius Normandy Scholar Program (NSP) studies the causes, conduct, consequences, and contemporary representations of the Second World War from multiple national perspectives. The NSP brings together each spring semester eighteen students from different backgrounds and different majors who take the same five courses, share the same challenges, and travel together nearly a month in May with the NSP faculty.  Beyond the classroom discussions, the readings and paper assignments, the guest lectures, the film series, and the opportunity to visit WWII sites in Europe, perhaps the most striking feature of the program is the personal development and intellectual growth it fosters. Students who meet the program requirements and are looking for an extraordinary educational experience are invited to inquire and apply. Learn more about the history and background of the program here.  -- Charters Wynn, Director, Normandy Scholar Program


WATCH: Normandy Scholar
Program Tribute Video
College of Liberal Arts

Testimonials from the Class of 2023

Being a Normandy Scholar has been the greatest joy I've gotten the luck to experience in my college career. I joined to learn more about World War II, and long story short, I got everything I ever wanted and more. Spring 2023 changed my college experience and even though it was my most challenging academic endeavor, it was by far the most special and rewarding. While the course content was uniquely thought-provoking, the classroom discussions ultimately redefined how I evaluated and conversed with worldviews vastly different from mine.  Most of all, this little time capsule brought people who could share this unique journey with me. Amid our mutual laughs, struggles, and more, we grew from classmates to acquaintances to friends (friends that I now cannot go a day without talking to). I hold a special spot for these lifelong friends and professors who have not only seen my growth but have taken part in it. From designing thoughtfully immersive museum exhibits to standing on Omaha together to walking across Mont Saint-Michel, to say that meeting them helped me to meet myself is an understatement.  I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who might be interested to apply. While history was seemingly unrelated to my majors or career goals at first, every aspect of the Normandy program pushed me to become someone who can be confident in challenging assumptions, taking risks, and navigating nuances. The semester’s readings, assignments, lectures, and discussions showed me empathy and sparked creativity in ways that none of my other classes could ever replicate. I love everything about this rare and wonderful program. I will always cherish our beautiful and carefree days together in Europe, and I am proud of the person I became after.
--Gloria Wang, Management Information Systems, Plan II

Before I came to UT, before I applied to college, and even before I graduated high school, I knew I wanted to study abroad, it was just a matter of where and when. When I was recommended the Normandy Scholar Program by one of my professors, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to go to these places; the words London, Paris, and Berlin flashed brightly in my brain. But as I read more, I hesitated and began to second guess myself.  I’m not a history major, I know very little about World War II, and I don’t know if this space is for me, as both a student majoring in English, and as a student of color. I managed to power through these thoughts and apply, after talking to my grandmother who showed me a picture of my great-grandfather, an African American veteran who served in WWII. She reminded me that there is a place in this history for me too. And so I applied, which quickly became the greatest decision I have ever made in my college career. Not only did I get to learn from professors who are experts in their field, who went above and beyond to make the classroom a lively and conscious place for discussion, I was also challenged to dig deeper, think wider, and be curious about a sector of history that has affected so much of what our reality is like today. Getting to go abroad after four months of this amazing learning experience was the cherry on top, and it made what we learned even more special by getting to apply it to what we saw in real life, and so was getting to experience it all alongside people who by the end of the trip became some of the best people I’ve met in college, and friends that I left the program with. Looking at these words on a screen it becomes hard to capture this experience, but if there’s one thing I have learned from this program, it’s that words have the power to change people, to start and end wars, to deeply affect lives, and to leave lasting imprints on history. I hope these words I have shared about an experience that means so much to me lead another student, eager to travel and learn, into a program that will forever stay with them as well.
--Trinity Hawkins, English
My time in the Normandy Scholar Program challenged my understanding of the human condition. As a biochemistry major, this program transported me directly into the war through emotional primary literature and film interpretations. Analyzing historical situations and writing about insightful diaries and memoirs brought me closer to personal suffering and loss during the war. These learning moments showed me the difference between knowing what happened and attempting to understand these tragedies. Further, writing about these nuanced stories from multiple perspectives challenged me to analyze situations and context critically. My exposure to these intimate, shocking conditions motivates me to pursue a comprehensive understanding of others’ situations and comfort them in their times of need. Having the same group of talented peers around helped me overcome obstacles unfamiliar to me as a STEM major. My five amazing professors also guided me toward becoming a better historian. Finally, touring through Europe and visiting the history discussed in class and their aftermath showed me how cultures are affected by these events. I got so much closer to my peers and formed many strong friendships along the way. After returning home from Berlin, I had a chance to reflect on my experiences and learning. My conception that medicine connected little to a WWII program aside from its historical advances and practices was gone. In its place, I saw the power of empathizing, understanding, and analyzing a fellow human’s situation. As a pre-medical student, I gained so much from this experience, personally and academically. Being one of the most stimulating times in my college career, I highly recommend this program to all students considering applying.
--Bruce Mang, Biochemistry

 Being part of the Normandy Scholar Program has been one of my most excellent academic career decisions. I applied to the Normandy Scholar Program out of pure passion. I am a Biochemistry major on the Pre-med track and saw an opportunity to explore my love for history in just one semester. The program takes you into an extensive account of World War II, focusing on the United States, France, Germany, Poland, and the Soviet Union. All of the professors are just fantastic at what they do and highly passionate about their content, a passion that will carry onto you as Normandy Scholars. The program is not easy and will require you to get outside your comfort zone, especially for me as a STEM major, but the workload, in my opinion, was very manageable. It is difficult to complain about something you are genuinely passionate about, and I enjoyed all my late nights doing readings and writing essays. The people you meet also add a beautiful aspect to the program. You will share every class, every weekday, and eventually every day in Europe with the same people. At the end of the program, you will visit in Europe the exact locations that you spent weeks studying, and it will feel rewarding like a dream come true. The experiences in Europe were absolutely fantastic. There is an overwhelming feeling visiting historical sights and sharing a bit of your life with them, paying tribute to fallen heroes and victims of our history. But sharing them with those around you makes it ever so meaningful. To say the least, I am now double majoring in Biochemistry and History due to the Normandy Scholar Program. I hope that reassures those interested that the program is not only fantastic but life-changing. I have grown as a person and student because of the Normandy Scholar Program, some of the most valuable qualities any individual should strive for. My experiences in this program, the faculty, and my classmates shall forever hold a special place in my heart.
--Miguel Cepeda, Biochemistry, History

Read More: NSP Testimonials since 2005.

D-Day’s 80th Anniversary

Marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2024, The Alcalde alumni magazine of The University of Texas produced this short documentary and interview featuring historian and NSP Faculty Member Dr. Aaron O’Connell.

Watch Here.
College of Liberal Arts

Image courtesy of The Alcalde.