|Denisa Lazarescu, shown here in the Union Philosophical Society meeting room in Denny Hall, says, “Dickinson offers so many opportunities to be involved that I had no time to be homesick.”
It’s not hard to encounter Denisa Lazarescu ’08 of Bucharest, Romania, on campus. If you attend a Clarke Center event, she’s likely the student introducing the speaker or passing the microphone around the audience during question-and-answer time. Thursday nights you’ll find her involved in a debate at a Union Philosophical Society meeting in Denny Hall.
Or, if you venture beyond Carlisle, you can follow her to the University of Virginia or another venue where the Model United Nations is converging. If you pick up Pennsylvania’s capital-city paper of record, The Patriot-News, you might spy her byline on the op-ed page.
“What I love about Dickinson is I can develop core skills that I can use in many arenas,” Lazarescu says. “When I’m in a conference for the Model U.N., I need diplomacy, patience and public-debate skills. I love learning these things from my fellow students at Dickinson.” At Model U.N. conferences, students from many campuses gather to simulate the real representatives’ topical discussions and passage of resolutions. “It’s fascinating to think it’s like a U.N. representative behaves in a session,” she says.
Such experiences are preparing Lazarescu, a political science and international studies double major, for a career she envisions will be “geared toward international relations. Being a diplomat would be fascinating, but I am more oriented toward human rights. Working with NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] would be my dream.
“By the time I graduate, Romania will be accepted into the European Union,” she adds. “I hope the type of education I have acquired will allow me to gain access to jobs in Europe.”
She was attracted to NGO work after taking her first-year seminar, Human Rights and World Politics, with Provost and Dean of the College Neil Weissman.
“It was such a useful class, and really groundbreaking for me,” says Lazarescu. “It focused on how to do research, and Dean Weissman instilled rigor. I approached him halfway through my first semester and told him I wanted more from my Dickinson experience. He pointed me toward The Clarke Center.”
Her work there as a student manager, she says, “has been fun and enriching. My first event was Afghan After the Taliban, led by a Fulbright scholar from Pakistan. We talked a lot together.”
After the event David Commins, Clarke Center executive director and professor of history, asked her to write a summation of her experience. Unbeknownst to her, he submitted it to The Patriot-News. “My parents were so proud that, two months after I got here, already I was publishing,” she says.
As with many international students, Lazarescu heard about Dickinson while in high school from a Romanian student already enrolled here. “I wanted an East Coast, small college of the liberal arts,” she says. “The percentage of students who receive financial aid was important, as were employment opportunities on campus.”
Word of mouth alerted Lazarescu to Dickinson, but reading about the college on the Web site whetted her interest. She saw on the Web that Dickinson “is internationally minded, which is on the same wavelength of what I wanted.” Exchanges with Giulia Rinaldis, assistant director of international admissions, “tilted the balance toward Dickinson,” she says. “Giulia was incredibly open, knowledgeable and very sweet. She called several times, and we e-mailed constantly.”
When decision time came, it was between Dickinson and Hamilton College. “This is the best decision I ever made,” she declares. “I’m very ambitious and need to be challenged, and Dickinson definitely has given that to me.”
She would like to see more of her compatriots have her opportunities and is helping to recruit Romanians by corresponding with the 20 who have expressed interest in the college. Lazarescu also plans to make presentations at Romanian high schools during her winter break.
One sure-fire attraction for prospective students will be the accommodations here, she says. “The Romanian dorms are appalling. They’re packed and have a lack of hygiene. I love being in the dorm here. You don’t bond with people in the same way if you just see them in class.”
But most of all, she’ll share with recruits her belief that “it’s a privilege and an opportunity to go here.” •