Alumna to spend year in Geneva with Rotary

By Molly Packer

Many children think they will grow up to change the world one day, but only a select few actually do. By age 11, Daniella Romero, a 2010 Baylor alumna with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and a native Mexican, knew she wanted to be involved in world affairs.

On Feb. 5, Romero learned she would be awarded the Rotary’s Ambassadorial Scholarship. She will leave this August to live for a year in Geneva as a Rotary Ambassador.

The Rotary Club is an international service organization with volunteers around the world.

“Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace and eradicate polio under the motto ‘Service Above Self,’” the Rotary’s website states.

Romero said she came to Baylor knowing she wanted to study international relations.

Romero won Walt Disney’s “Millennium Dreamers” contest in 2000 when she was 11 years old, which gave her the chance to interact with kids from around the world who were also actively thinking about how to better the world around them.

Being around these kids and getting this opportunity at such a young age got Romero interested in world cultures and affairs, she said.

“Disney picked 2,000 kids from all over the world to represent their country. The prize was going to Disney World for a week,” Romero said. “It was interesting to me to see how these kids from all different countries wanted to change the world.”

Romero learned about Rotary in December through her younger sister, Denise who is a youth ambassador for the Rotary in Belgium.

When she visited her sister in Belgium over Christmas break, Romero started attending Rotary events and meeting a lot of Rotarians.

“I started working with them as much as I could,” Romero said. “Even if I hadn’t gotten the scholarship, I would’ve stayed with the Rotary because I really liked what they’re doing.”

At Baylor, Romero was involved in the Model Organization of American States program led by Dr. Joan Supplee, associate professor of history.

“Daniella first came to my attention when she joined the Model Organization of American States,” Supplee said. “I don’t think I needed to inspire her much. She’s pretty self-inspired. I have a lot of respect for Daniella.”

As a part of the Model Organization of American States program, Romero, who speaks Spanish, English and French, served as head delegate in both the English and Spanish languages. In addition to competing nationally in both Washington, D.C., and San Antonio, Romero was also head delegate when the group went to Lima, Peru, last May to compete in a mock session.

With the help of several Rotary members and mentors, including her Rotary sponsor Tommie Buscemi, Romero learned about the Rotary’s Ambassadorial Scholarship and was encouraged to apply. According to the Rotary’s website, the scholarship is meant to further international understanding and relations among people of different countries.

Romero contacted Rotary members and scholarship winners from places such as Sri Lanka, Peru and Argentina. By the time she applied and went to the interview, Romero felt prepared.

“I went to the interview and not even 30 minutes after I left, they told me I got it,” she said.

On her application, Romero wrote that she would be studying in Geneva.

“Geneva is the center of diplomacy and it made sense for me to go there,” Romero said.

While in Geneva, Romero will learn more in the fields of international relations and diplomacy and will also work with a global grant given to her as part of the scholarship.

“I’m going to work with young students and set up a model like Model U.N.,” Romero said. “I feel like that’s something that helped me understand international relations. By teaching the youth about global issues, so many problems can be solved.”

Supplee said Romero’s time in Geneva will be good for her.

“The program she’s going to be involved in is going to open up some connections internationally. She already has good connections in this hemisphere, but this will help her in Europe,” Supplee said. “Considering she’s bicultural and trilingual and tremendously ambitious and people like her, she will be very successful. She’s going to be a tremendous representative for the United States in the wider world, which is part of the goal of the rotary scholarship.”

In the future, one of Romero’s goals is to complete her master’s degree in international relations, but she said most of all she wants to be an ambassador.

“In 10 years I don’t know where I’m going to be, but I know I’ll be in international affairs. I take it one day at a time,” Romero said. “I simply see myself as I do now — trying to make a difference and an impact any way I can.”