“If it weren't for the Rotary scholarship program, I wouldn't be here,” she explained. “It's an amazing program. I'm really grateful.”

Rotary Students Add International Flair

For Maria Isabella Olmos, an 18-year-old freshman from Barranquilla, Colombia, the opportunity to study economics at Armstrong on a Georgia Rotary Student Program scholarship is, quite literally, a dream come true.

“If it weren't for the Rotary scholarship program, I wouldn't be here,” she explained. “It's an amazing program. I'm really grateful.”

One of four international students currently attending Armstrong on a one-year Georgia Rotary Student Program scholarship, Maria Isabella plans to continue her studies, eventually earning a master's degree and Ph.D. in economics. “I really like my professors and the ambiance of Armstrong,” she said. “In Colombia, we don't have residence halls and student life. Living in a dorm, having a roommate and speaking English all the time is a big change for me, but I'm really enjoying it.”

Additional Rotary scholarship students currently on campus for the 2011-2012 academic year include Maja Cronert from Sweden, Eevi Haonpera from Finland and Zsofia Puskely from Hungary. Each of these international students brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and insight to the Armstrong community.

Since 1946, the Georgia Rotary's ambassadorial scholarship program has brought more than 3,000 students from around the world to study at universities across the Peach State. Each year, Rotary clubs across Georgia sponsor international students between the ages of 18 and 25 at various state colleges and universities. These prestigious scholarships cover tuition, room and board and include stipend for books. Students are responsible for travel expenses to and from the United States and medical insurance.

Janis Comer, the administrator at the Georgia Rotary Student Program Office explains that Georgia is the only state in the country to offer Rotary scholarships to international students. “It's a wonderful program,” she said. “Georgia is currently hosting 55 students from 28 different countries at 30 different universities across the state.”

James Anderson, Armstrong's director of International Education, believes Georgia Rotary scholarship students enrich life on the Armstrong campus. “We are bringing exceptional students into the classroom,” he said. “Most of the time, these students are very outgoing and exuberant. A lot of Armstrong students have connections with them in the classroom, in the residence halls and throughout the campus.”

Anderson sees the impact Georgia Rotary scholarship students have at Armstrong, year after year, expanding the university's diverse student body. “These Rotary students are widening our students' horizons,” he said. “They bring a unique cultural understanding and have a positive effect on the campus.”