This year, more than 150 CSU students will study abroad in more than 15 countries. One of these students, Rosa Orta Cruz, never thought she would realize her dream of studying abroad, but because of her achievements, and with the help of the CSU’s Center for International Services and Programs, Rosa is currently in Spain, living her dream.
Rosa is the first student in CSU history to receive the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The Gilman Scholarship looks for students who have excellent academic records, are interested in studying in diverse countries and have diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Rosa also earned the ISA Farnum Memorial Scholarship and the CSU Diversity Program Scholarship. Through her diligent work and academic excellence, she achieved 100 percent funding for her trip.
Rosa was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. She has 10 brothers and sisters and is the only member of her family to attend college. Rosa was raised in Cleveland and spent her summers in Puerto Rico. When she graduated from high school, she wanted to be close to her parents, who were then living in Puerto Rico, so she attended her freshman year at the University of Sacred Heart in Puerto Rico. When her parents decided to move back to Cleveland, she chose CSU because her teachers at Lincoln-West High recommended CSU’s Teacher Education program as one of the top in the area. “I followed their advice, and thanks to them and Cleveland State, I’m making my dreams come true,” she says.
Rosa’s dream is to become a Spanish teacher. She knew that learning the dialect and experiencing the culture first hand would change her life and the lives of her future students. “Spanish is important to me because I witness how it is disappearing in today’s youth, and how they are losing part of their identity and culture,” says Rosa. “I feel that people should learn about other cultures and languages. That way, they will be able to understand other people and discrimination and prejudice will be defeated.”
Rosa is studying abroad in Salamanca, a city two hours away from Spain’s capital, Madrid. “So far it has been a great experience,” says Rosa. “You get to know yourself a little better than before and become more independent.”
She is learning a great deal about the cultural differences between Spain and the United States. “Here stores are closed between 2 and 4 p.m., and everyone eats lunch and takes the afternoon siesta,” she says. “Then, dinner does not take place until 9 p.m. Everything in Spain is at a slower pace.” This slower pace has required some adjustment. “At first I felt lazy, but there is only so much you can do in a day here.”
Rosa’s favorite part of studying abroad has been her weekend travels. “I get to travel every weekend with the program to other parts of Spain and Europe,” she says. “It’s amazing to get to know so many other cultures and learn to understand and respect their customs.”
Rosa is looking forward to sharing these cultural experiences with her students. “Right now I am volunteering in an elementary school her in Salamanca,” she says. “I want students to learn that Spanish is more than a language; it is an opportunity to become successful.”
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