Casey Rothberg, only the second UB student ever to win the competitive David L. Boren Scholarship, fits the scholarship program’s profile on paper well. Her application is the picture of a practical-minded, sensible student who hopes to work for the U.S. government one day, traveling to China for 10 months to learn the language so she can help the U.S. and China collaborate in Middle Eastern affairs.
In person, that image of Rothberg seems incomplete. She’s a natural communicator, a great listener, a dancer, engaging and with wide interests ranging from her saxophone to “adventure.” When listing what she loves, she writes “FOOD” in capital letters.
And there’s a playful touch to her lifelong drive to learn Mandarin that will take her to Capital Normal University in Beijing. She wrote down the Mandarin name she chose for herself the first week of class: 吴凯西. The phonetic pronunciation is “woo kai she,” part of which sounds like Casey, her first name.
When asked to write something in Mandarin, she writes 我很喜欢饺子.
Translation: “I really like dumplings.”
The identity that is alive and well on her Boren scholarship essay certainly applies. Rothberg wrote about how her continuing expertise in Mandarin and experience in Chinese culture will be useful in dealing with countries crucial to the future security and stability of the U.S.
“The political positions and ideological principles of the U.S. and China, democratic and communist respectively, differ in many aspects,” Rothberg wrote to the Boren committee. “However, one thing we do agree on is a stable economic system.
“As an economics major, I understand the importance of this common interest in economic power that is bonding the two largest economies together. This economic bond must be strengthened in order to create political alignment and, in turn, alignment on many other issues. The capitalistic market of the U.S. will hopefully influence China, the most prominent Communist nation, to strengthen capitalistic and democratic ideas in their own market.”
Rothberg recognizes the more formal pose the scholarship committee is looking for. And she is willing and able to present herself this way, but with a qualifier:
“Only when I have to,” she says.
Either way, Rothberg — whose family lives in Beacon, a small city in Dutchess County, a short drive from Poughkeepsie — is another shining example of how UB students are successfully competing for national and international scholarships and fellowships.