Rowan College of South Jersey Graduate Receives Prestigious Language Study Scholarship from U.S. Department of State

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor

Photo: Jon Bradley | Follow South Jersey

VINELAND, N.J. — Rowan College of South Jersey class of 2020 graduate Alexandra Dionisi will participate in a prestigious language study program thanks to a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State.

Dionisi is one of 700 American students who will receive the Critical Language Scholarship, which aims to help broaden the United States’ global influence. The CLS was created by former President George W. Bush in 2006, and he wanted to increase the number of American students studying foreign languages critical to American foreign relations and national security.

The class of 2020 grad, who currently works as a secretary for RCSJ-Cumberland’s Adult Basic Education program, has always had a passion for learning different languages.

“I enjoy studying different languages because it gives me different perspectives on global issues,” Dionisi said. “Also, I can communicate with so many more people and meet them on level ground. I’ve heard a saying that when you speak to someone in their native language it’s like communicating with their heart.”

Dionisi selected Indonesian as her course of study for the program. The scholarship also offers a number of other language courses, including Korean, Swahili, Urdu, and Persian, among others. She first learned about the program while attending a production of Hamlet put on at Rowan University, which is where she saw a poster for the CLS program.

The Millville resident chose Indonesian as her course of study because of her Filipino-American roots. Her mother is from the Phillippines, and her mom’s birthplace’s proximity to Indonesia and Dionisi’s interest in the Delaware Valley’s Indonesian community were also reasons why she chose the language.

Dionisi received recommendations from the recently-retired Dr. Maud Goodnight, who served as RCSJ’s University Center executive director, and Bridgeton Public Schools teacher Heidi Dugan for the scholarship.

“Alexandra is one of the most self-motivated, intelligent, hard-working women I know. Her gift for languages and drive to reach her goals are inspiring,” Dugan said. “There is no one better suited for an intensive language and cultural exchange program like this one, and no one more deserving of this opportunity. Alexandra is an advocate for community college education. She will demonstrate to the other participants in the program, and all her instructors, that community college students have the ability and drive to contribute on the world stage.”

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