Luci Storelli-Castro, 2007 Rotary Ambassador

How did you first hear about the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship? What motivated you to apply?

I first heard about the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship through my US Foreign Policy professor, Dr. Robert Lawrence. At the time, I was a junior at Colorado State University and writing a weekly column for the university paper, the Rocky Mountain Collegian. From our interactions in class and my article topics, Dr. Lawrence, who also happens to be a Rotarian, became aware that I was interested in international affairs and so he encouraged me to apply.

A major motivation for applying was the possibility of going to Africa. Rare is the chance to live, let alone study in an African country. I thought this was the best opportunity for me to do so. Furthermore, as one who has been fortunate to take part in two previous study abroad trips in Germany and Italy, I was aware of the benefits that come with such exchanges - including traveling, meeting people of all walks of life, building lasting friendships, and gaining a new perspective. Moreover, my ideals mapped well to the scholarship's mission statement of spreading global goodwill and understanding. I liked how the scholarship not only expected applicants to perform well academically, but to also help within the community.

Why did you choose Ghana?

It had always been a childhood dream of mine to venture into Africa. The continent's contorted history, impacting landscape, resilient people, and vast diversity in languages were a major attraction. I selected Ghana because it is an English speaking country and has had a strong record of democratic governance and stability within the region. Also, I saw Ghana as a trend-setting nation, having been the first country in Africa to break the chains of colonialism and gain independence.

How does your Rotary Ambassadorial experience related to your future career goals?

At this point, my most desired occupation would be as a foreign correspondent for a major newspaper or magazine organization. Before coming to Ghana as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, this was a career path that I had not yet committed myself to. However, while in Ghana, I have continued writing for my university paper back home and this has helped cement my interest in continuing a journalism career at the international level.

What benefits do you think being a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar provides?

For starters, it should be highlighted that this is a very generous scholarship. Scholars are granted up to $24,000 to cover tuition, books and other university - related fees, travel expenses, and room and board. Beyond the monetary benefits, I think that a distinguishing feature of being a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar is that one gets introduced to a network of Rotarians genuinely committed to building a better world. The connections one makes with Rotarians can help get a development project off the ground and ensure a pleasant stay in the host country. Also, Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars are encouraged to volunteer in their host communities, which I believe gives the scholarship a unique humanitarian touch.

What was the best part of your experience?

It is difficult to identify the best experience thus far in Ghana, because there have been so many great ones. Just to name a few: starting a girl's soccer team at a Liberian refugee camp, teaching English to a first grade class of 57 squirmy 7-year olds, traveling 17 hours from northern Ghana in a bus crammed full of students and yams, lifting a crocodile's tail, taking gold with my university women's soccer team, traveling around the country with my mom and brother, and just the daily interactions with my international student friends and ordinary Ghanaians.

What would you tell other students who are on the fence about applying for these types of scholarships?

Get off the fence and take the plunge! Living abroad is a life-enriching opportunity that everyone should experience at one point or another. For many college students still unsure about future plans, this can be a great way of discovering the career path or study concentration that best suits one. More importantly, studying abroad will open your eyes, broaden your mind, and help in your personal development.