Carol Brush studied Italian and art history at Indiana University and in 1977 spent a summer in Bologna, Italy, through an Indiana University exchange program. She adored Italy—its people, its culture, and its language—and nine years later returned there for the summer with her husband, Indiana University professor Douglas Hofstadter. One day while dining in a Roman restaurant, they randomly ran into Edoardo Lèbano, Carol's favorite Italian professor, and had a great reunion. In 1993, motivated by their shared love for Italy, Carol and Doug chose to spend Doug's sabbatical year in Trento with their two young children, Danny and Monica, but after just three months there, Carol died very unexpectedly.
Despite the tragedy, Doug and the children remained in Trento for the rest of the sabbatical year and as a consequence, Danny and Monica became fluent in Italian, a gift from their mother. In the wake of Carol's death, her family and friends created a scholarship in her memory, so that more students could discover Bologna and learn to love it as she did.