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Danitza Verano Roman
Salisbury University's Danitza Verano Roman will travel to India this fall to study Hindi after earning a Boren Fellowship.

SU's Roman Earns Opportunity to Study Hindi in India Through Boren Fellowship

SALISBURY, MD---Danitza Verano Roman grew up in Peru, immigrating to the U.S. when she was 14. She knew almost no English when she arrived, but has picked it up fluently in the past eight years.

Her love of learning, and opportunities and encouragement provided by Salisbury University, have led a new adventure for the Silver Spring resident: taking on another language as a recent recipient of the Boren Fellowship through the National Security Education Program (NSEP).

This fall, Roman, an international studies major, will travel to India, where she will study Hindi. She feels a connection to the Indian culture from her childhood, when she gained a fascination with India, its music and its people while watching Bollywood movies.

Before crafting her application for the Boren, she applied for a Fulbright Scholarship to study French in Benin – a small county in West Africa – and was selected as a semifinalist for the prestigious award. Dr. Kristen Walton, director of SU’s Nationally Competitive Fellowships Office, told her while her Fulbright application was strong, her passion for India shone through in her Boren application.

Roman’s Peruvian culture is based closely around family. Her community in Montgomery County comes together every Sunday for family games and meals. Each August, its members celebrate an annual festival with music and dancing. They also gather for birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. Such traditions help solidify cultures, Roman said, and it’s one of the things she more looks forward to learning more about in India.

“I want to see how they celebrate,” Roman said. “When I go to a party in my hometown, there’s the Spanish music, our traditional celebrations for birthdays or anniversaries. You can see the culture there. If I can go to a celebration in India, I think I will really see the culture.”

As a first-generation college student, her journey to SU was a challenging one, enrolling just three years after arriving in the U.S. and still getting comfortable with the language.

One of her primary reasons for coming to mid-sized university like Salisbury was that she felt she could become part of a community and make connections, which was key in her Boren acceptance.

After completing the rigorous Fulbright application, the thought to go after the Boren was a bit last-minute, requiring essays and letters of recommendation in just a week’s time. She needed help from SU faculty and mentors, on short-notice, to complete the letters, and all were quick to help.

Supporters included Dr. Dane Foust, SU vice president of student affairs — something Roman is sure would not have happened at a larger institution.

“If I was at a bigger school, it would have been really hard to find that connection,” she said. “Coming to Salisbury, the size was right for me to be able to connect with others. My classes are all smaller, and I get to interact with the professors. They always show that they care about you and your education.”

While in India, Roman will study the language and the educational system, particularly for women. She hopes to learn how she can help the U.S. build connections with India and encourage women to possibly attend SU and other U.S. colleges and universities through exchange programs or enrolling full-time like she did.

Roman believes a large part of her success is due to the help of those at SU who encouraged and assisted her along the way.

“One of the biggest things for me is to be able to help and give back to the community with everything that I was given,” she said, crediting friends and SU faculty like Walton and Dr. Brittany Foutz, faculty in the Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution Department. “I wouldn’t be here getting all these opportunities if it wasn’t for professors, friends and people who helped and guided me.”

The Boren is supported by the U.S. Department of Defense and administered by the Institute of International Education, on behalf of the NSEP.

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