Ray Vernon
1948 – 2022

Ray Vernon was the Founder of Accent. Ray completed a degree in education at the University of Exeter before pursuing his own studies abroad at the Università di Perugia and the Université de Paris, Sorbonne. These experiences led him into the field of international education. After creating an association in the mid-seventies to assist U.S. college students abroad, he went on to form a European network of study abroad centers. These centers were consolidated and emerged as Accent.

For over three decades, Ray was more than an innovative leader in the field of international higher education, he was a changemaker. His conviction for the value of a global education created not only one of the most reputable education abroad organizations in Europe, but one of the most unique in its mission: to meet each partner’s institutional objectives and to respond to the ever-changing needs of U.S. students with experiential, impactful, and university-branded education abroad programs. Since Accent’s founding, the lives of more than 70,000 students have been touched by Ray’s vision and passion.

Each of Accent’s programs and partnerships are built on long-standing relationships and profound trust. Ray treasured his close relationships with colleagues in the field of international education. Ray’s endless energy and curiosity inspired students, faculty, administrators, and Accent colleagues to expand horizons, take risks, and to continually explore new opportunities in education. His kindness and humanity touched everyone he met. He cared deeply for the personal well-being and professional development of each member of the Accent team.

Ray’s deep understanding of and appreciation for the value of a global education continues to inspire all of us at Accent to fulfill his mission. To honor Ray’s life-long mission, we have created the Founder’s Prize.

The Founder’s Prize
The Founder’s Prize is crafted to carry on Ray’s enduring impact on international education, serving as a fitting tribute and celebration of his accomplishments.

The prize aims to encourage and empower upcoming change-makers whose academic and professional pursuits will contribute to innovative and sustainable solutions for complex global challenges.

Annually, two prizes of $5,000 each will be awarded—one for students committed to Entrepreneurship, and another for those actively involved in studying and applying principles of Community Engagement and Leadership.

Those of you who wish to contribute to Ray’s legacy and help support the Founder’s Prize may donate online.

Founder's Prize Awardees

“I give my sincerest and most warm appreciation for your generosity and belief in me. Growing up as a first-generation with immigrant parents and financial problems, it is hard for me to believe that the world is my oyster due to the circumstances I’ve had to overcome in a world where minorities are often disregarded and discriminated against. But, in moments like these where I am encouraged and uplifted by others, I am reminded that I am capable and worthy enough to experience new opportunities and that there are avenues for me to learn and grow immensely.”

Carolyn Hernandez

Founder's Prize recipient, UCEAP Business and Entrepreneurship in London Spring 2024

I wanted to thank you for funding this award. It has alleviated my financial concerns of studying abroad…I have never been to Europe, and I am incredibly excited to experience new cultures, and learn about the rich history of social justice and activism in Paris…I am very interested in learning about how the French organize protests and rallies differently than in the U.S. and the areas in which they are successful. I am also excited to learn about the ways the French government prioritizes social needs differently to the United States...Thank you for supporting this scholarship! I am very grateful and excited about the ways it will improve my study abroad experience.

Zadie Waletzko

Founder's Prize recipient, UCEAP Social Justice and Activism in Paris Spring 2024

I know that participating in this UCEAP program will open my mind and expose me to different perspectives in business and entrepreneurship. Through cultural immersion, I will experience a new way of living, allowing me to think of problems in a completely different way – all things I would have never developed if I just stayed home. Once I return from my program, I hope to apply all this cultural and entrepreneurship knowledge that I gain to my own community to improve the lives of others here in the United States. At the end of the day, that’s the whole point of entrepreneurship: to make the world a better place – and that’s what’s kept me motivated.

Adrian Muniz-Murguia

Founder's Prize recipient, UCEAP Business and Entrepreneurship in London Spring 2023