Q&A with Danielle Bartz
Junior Danielle Bartz has not only been faced with intense physical competition on the water this semester, but challenging academic competition as well. After interviewing against eight other candidates for the Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship, the Woodvillle, Texas native was one of three students awarded the scholarship that will allow her to go anywhere in the world for postgraduate work and service projects. Recently Bartz stopped by TexasSports.com to speak about her prestigious scholarship and her hopes for the future.
How did you hear about the scholarship? My rotary club in Woodville called me about it a couple months ago. They explained that they knew about a scholarship that comes up every year and they thought it would be a good fit with what I am studying. I am working on a double major in government and Spanish and a minor in French and my club said they felt as if I was at the right time in my academic career, being that the scholarship is for 2008-09. That will be the year after I graduate, and the organization who gives out this scholarship likes to send students who have completed their undergrad degree.
How did you first get involved with your rotary club? Rotary is an international organization that prides itself on its motto of "service above self" and is dedicated to community service. One of the current members in my town created a high school club called Interact that does community service projects along with the rotary club. I was one of the charter members of my high school club and my senior year I served as vice president. We took part in different activities around town, including dinners, fundraising and yard cleanup for people who were older and might not be able to work around the house.
Tell us about the scholarship application process. First you submit an application to your rotary club and they choose one applicant to send to the district interview. I had to do this terribly long and complicated application that took about a week to fill out. My application was even more difficult because if you wanted to apply for a country with a native language that isn't English you had to write your essay in that language to prove your language efficiency. I wrote my essays in Spanish and French. Everyone that applied had an outstanding GPA and they all were really involved in their school, so I wanted to use my languages to standout.
How would you describe the interview? I had to give a five-minute introduction about myself, where I go to school, what I'm studying and how the scholarship would benefit me in my future career and studies. Then a panel of 12 judges sat with me and randomly asked me questions. The panel was comprised of deans from Stephen F. Austin University, Sam Houston State and Lamar University. They asked very vague questions to see how I'd answer; they want to know that you can handle yourself with people you don't know. One of the harder questions they asked me was how I'd handle the anti-American sentiment in Europe. After I explained in a really complicated way using all these nice big vocabulary words they turned around and asked me to explain my answer in Spanish. I was immediately kicking myself for trying to sound really intelligent because in Spanish my explanation would be really simple. I quickly covered myself by saying 'If you want it in French, I can do that too, but I'm going to need a sheet of paper and a pencil.' They also asked a lot about rowing, how I got into it and the effect it has had on my life.
So what does this scholarship provide you with? The total is $27,000, which should help cover school, room and board, food, etc.
You have been to Spain before during a summer abroad program. So why did you decide to go back? I wanted to go to a place that was new to me, but also a place where I could use both of my languages. I wanted to be exposed to both Spanish and French on a regular basis. This is why I chose the northern part of Spain that shares a border with France, so I can make appearances at rotary clubs in both countries. I've learned it's not enough to take language classes; you simply have to live in the element. It helps to be surrounded by the culture, and be in uncomfortable positions where you are forced to use the language.
What do you hope to accomplish during your time in Spain? I really want to master both of my languages. I hope to have the chance to use French more. I love people and learning about different cultures so I will be happy doing any projects with the local rotary club. I'm a ballroom dancing teaching assistant now, so I really want to learn Spanish dancing and teach American dancing while I'm over there. It would also be cool if I could get involved with the government and possibly set the foundation for me going to law school and possibly pursuing a diplomatic career.
Will you be wearing any of your Texas gear over there? Oh yeah, we're going to be burnt orange in the north of Spain. I was in Santander, Spain for six weeks during the summer and in a city of about 300,000 there was a Texas-Ex who came and found my group so he could say hi. There is also a Texas Exes center in Madrid -- Longhorns are going places, apparently places all over the world -- so I don't think I will have a problem getting in touch with the Texas Exes in Madrid. It should be exciting.