Kaitlyn Roberts will study Portuguese language in Brazil as Demers Fellowship recipient
Kaitlyn Roberts ’20 has been awarded a $17,500 scholarship through the Rhode Island Foundation’s Beatrice S. Demers Foreign Language Fellows Program to fund her pursuit of Portuguese language study in Brazil. Roberts will attend Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) in Florianópolis, Brazil after completing her Innovation and Strategic Management master’s degree at Salve Regina in 2021.
“I was very excited to hear that I had been selected for the fellowship, but it was also somewhat bittersweet,” said Roberts, who majored in psychology with a minor in studio art while in Salve Regina’s undergrad program. “Nowadays, things seem to change daily, and it is very hard for everyone to make plans for their future. They are allowing awardees to defer their award for up to one academic year. Their flexibility is definitely appreciated.”
The intensive language program Roberts will pursue in Brazil as a Demers Fellow will allow her to complete up to two years of university foreign language coursework in only one semester and one year of language coursework in one summer. She also plans to explore elective courses in international development, international economics, strategic management and policy, business and trade in the Americas and international management.
Roberts learned about the Demers Fellowship program while auditing the Portuguese language class of Dr. Judy de Oliveira, adjunct faculty of the Department of Modern Languages. She spent her entire junior year studying abroad in Florence, Italy, at Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici, followed by a summer in Amsterdam in the Netherlands at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
“I was able to pick up the basics in Italian rather quickly while living in Florence, even with far less intensive language courses, so I am very excited about this program,” Roberts said.
In the spring semester of her senior year, Roberts worked with her Salve Regina professors to develop an online directed studies plan to earn her remaining 12 credits while working full time in Barga, Italy, as an assistant conference venue manager with Gordon Research Conferences, a job opportunity recommended to her by her FYT mentor Michael Wisnewski, Salve Regina’s director of career development.
“At the time, taking four courses online seemed like a wild idea, but little did I know I was actually ahead of the curve,” Roberts said. “While other students were adjusting to online classes in March after COVID-19 made its impact in the U.S., I had already been familiar with the format. While I was really enjoying my time working in Italy, GRC, unfortunately, had to cancel/postpone the remainder of their 2020 conferences, and I, along with my team, made our way back to the U.S. It was a very uneasy trip to make. We had fears of exposure, closed borders, and canceled flights, but we all made it home safely.”
Roberts was an “Adopt A Student” scholarship recipient while attending Holy Name Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School in Worcester, Massachusetts, which influenced her decision to attend Salve Regina. She was awarded the McAuley Scholarship at Salve Regina when she applied, and she has been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, Delta Epsilon Sigma Scholarship, Academic Programs International Study Abroad Scholarship, Vision of Mercy Endowed Scholarship, Bleeke-Byrne Art Travel Scholarship and the Kimball Family Association Education Scholarship.
“These opportunities have been very important to me as a student who does not come from wealth,” she said. “I love to talk about my experiences abroad and help push others to realize their international dreams as well …. The topic of diversity is also extremely important to me, especially with what is happening right now. Our modern world is connected in ways we have never seen before, which lends us to a very unique blend of diversity and multiculturalism. There is so much beauty to be seen in other cultures and so much to learn from those unlike ourselves. I believe that international experiences, like study abroad, are profoundly important for young adults still in their formative years.”
During her Salve Regina career, she was active in the Pell Honors Program, Service Advocates Organization, Service Plunge, Reach the World blogger, Multicultural Student Organization, Psychology Club, Student Outreach and Recruitment, Student Networking Association and International Student Club.
She praised her academic advisor, Dr. Paula Martasian, associate professor and chairwoman of the psychology department, for her ongoing support through all four years of her undergraduate career. “I still remember listening to her speak about Salve’s psychology program during a visit I made while still in high school,” she said. “She has always been 100 percent supportive in my endeavors; she always sat down with me every time I found an opportunity I wanted to pursue and helped me devise a plan to bring said course of action to life.”
Roberts is interested in a career with the government and, as a Gilman Scholarship recipient, has noncompetitive eligibility status for federal employment (NCE). “Using my extensive international experiences, passion for behavior analysis and academic study in both business and (I/O) psychology courses, I would be able to offer a very unique perspective,” she said.