SFC Student Awarded Prestigious Gilman Scholarship Published on Monday, Sep. 14, 2009

When Santa Fe College student Danielle Rossi started the fall semester, she wasn’t studying at the Northwest Campus in Gainesville, or at any of Santa Fe’s centers, either. Instead, the 24-year-old international economics major is studying Chinese at Jilin University in Changchun in northeastern China.

Rossi was recently awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for $5,000 by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education. She was one of 850 students selected from 1,927 applicants.

Rossi was recently awarded a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship for $5,000 by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education. She was one of 850 students selected from 1,927 applicants.

“This is Santa Fe’a first Gilman scholarship winner,” said Katie Aiken, coordinator, International Education. “I’m very proud and excited for Danielle. Not only is she smart and a good person, she also has a lot of drive and ambition.”

Rossi, whose goal is to go into international law or the U.S. Foreign Service, has spent the past two semesters studying Chinese I, daily, at the University of Florida. The courses were five credits a semester, in addition to her full-time course load at SFC, for a grand total of 18 hours a semester. On top of her academics she also worked part-time at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Rossi said she chose to study Chinese because she wanted to incorporate language study into her career preparation. Chinese history and culture fascinate her, and with China’s economy overtaking that of the United States and with China assuming a major role in world affairs, learning Chinese seemed like good preparation for the future.

“We are such strong partners,” she said. “Economically, we are linked at the hip.”

Rossi credited her “musical ear” with making language study relatively easy. “I’ve been surprised at how well I’ve picked it up,” she said. She’s played trumpet since starting out in band as a sixth grader. Before going to college, Rossi graduated from George Jenkins High School in Lakeland, where she also worked as a paralegal for Smith, Feddeler, Smith & Miles. She entered Santa Fe in January 2008.

At Jilin University, she’s registered for 18 language credits per semester in addition to humanities courses such as Chinese history (taught in Chinese) and calligraphy. Her host family, the Chens, are people she met at the University of Florida through the Chinese Language Partner program. The father, Haito Chen, was an exchange faculty teaching structural engineering at UF.

Rossi and her boyfriend went backpacking in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing for two weeks before she started classes. She wanted to see Three Gorges Dam, palaces, the terra cotta army, and the Chinese landscape along the Lijiang River, where “tiny slivers of mountains jut out of the earth.”

When she returns from China next spring — the scholarship will fund her studies from Sept. 1 through Aril 15, 2010 — the plan is to graduate with an associate’s degree from Santa Fe in May and then begin classes at UF. She is looking into law school. She likes the idea of practicing international law in Washington, D.C. Political science is another of her passions. She also hopes to return to China as an intern at the U.S. embassy in summer 2011 before graduating from UF.

Rossi submitted faculty recommendations and completed two essays for her Gilman application, which was certified by Aiken and Maureen McFarlane, associate director of Financial Aid. Gilman recipients must be eligible for Pell Grants to apply.

In return for the Gilman scholarship, Rossi has promised to coordinate a follow-up project when she returns from China. She’ll actively recruit Santa Fe students during Study Abroad weeks and will give a workshop with Humanities Chair Bill Little.

The Gilman encourages nontraditional students to study abroad: older students, students in under-represented majors such as engineering, community college students, and minorities. Recipients must also be eligible for Pell grants. The Gilman is for students planning to study at least one semester abroad in non-European countries, learning non-traditional languages (for example, Farsi rather than French).

SFC recently added Chinese to its curriculum, easily filling two section of Chinese I. It is also developing a semester-long exchange program with Beijing Union University and recently sent a small study abroad delegation to that university.

Aiken said she is eager to assist Santa Fe students wishing to incorporate a study abroad program into their course of study.

“Students need to plan ahead,” she said. “Applying for programs, figuring out the money – it takes a year. Freshmen, you should be coming to me now.”

For more information about study abroad opportunities, contact Katie Aiken at 395-5607.

CONTACT

RESOURCES

Gilman Scholarship webpage

SFC International Education webpage

SFC International Photography Competition webpage