Student Spotlight: Rosanne Garrido

Rosanne Garrido

Rosanne Garrido

Rosanne Garrido knows she’s fortunate to have spent time studying in South Korea while in high school.

But she never imagined getting a second opportunity to revisit this country thanks to a Critical Language Scholarship through the U.S. Department of State. The second experience was as memorable as the first and allowed her to not only return to a country she’d grown to love, but also to see a different region and experience cultural variations.

“As a junior in high school I was interested in China and started taking Chinese, but I absolutely fell in love with the Korean language when I was able to study there,” she said. “There’s just something about the dialect and the flow of the language that I find so wonderful.”

The Critical Language Scholarship Program is part of an effort by the U.S. government to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Garrido, who is currently attending College of DuPage, is one of approximately 560 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to receive the scholarship in 2016, allowing her to spend last summer in Gwangju, South Korea.

Always hoping to return to South Korea, she was surprised to find out about the grant application.

“This was a great opportunity that I had no idea I would have,” she said. “I want to try again while completing my bachelor’s degree. It was such an amazing experience and intensive.”

Garrido spent four hours per day in language studies classes and lived with a host family, immersing herself in South Korean culture. Students took two excursions and had cultural activities each week, ranging from Tae Kwon Do to calligraphy.

Previously, Garrido studied in Seoul and grew accustomed to the urban setting. Gwanjju, however, is a much more rural area, which provided an interesting juxtaposition, she said.

“It was very different and provided me with a better understanding of the country,” Garrido said. “I still talk with my host family from my high school trip and I was also able to see them, which was nice.”

Garrido came to COD to complete her general education requirements.

“I chose College of DuPage because it was exactly what I needed,” she said. “Not only has it saved me a lot of money and allowed me to complete my general education requirements, but it has given me time to really hone in on who I am and what I want to do, something that I would have felt rushed about if I had gone straight to a university.”

Garrido plans to transfer to an Illinois university and pursue a bachelor’s degree in finance. In the future, she would like to work somewhere that combines her strong interests in business and travel.

“Through the courses I’ve taken, COD has really allowed me to get a glimpse of the major I'll be going into once I transfer,” she said. “It has also helped me work on myself and become more confident.”

Her experiences in South Korea not only opened her eyes to the amazing culture lying beyond the U.S., but also transformed Garrido from a shy, quiet student, to a more adventurous scholar.

“I’ve matured and I’ve overcome a huge fear by going off to study by myself not once, but twice,” she said. “I just really want to inspire others at COD to apply for these types of opportunities. A community college doesn’t limit you. Success is about what you do with the experiences and opportunities you have.”

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