The way Carolina Romeo, BSc (Eng)’13, tells it, her unique journey from precocious high schooler to successful engineer and passionate donor is no big deal. Contrary to her humble, understated delivery, however, Romeo’s story is nothing short of inspiring — both to students and to the wider community.
When she was part of the way through Grade 11, Romeo, who had skipped a couple of grades in junior high, set aside plans to become a pastry chef and instead set her sights on the Schulich School of Engineering. “I started to like the idea of designing things and solving problems, pushing limits to see how far I might go — it seemed like a great fit for me,” she says.
Still, driven and focused as she was, an engineering degree seemed like a long shot; not only was Romeo — just 15 at her high school graduation — young for such a challenging program, but her family, who had immigrated to Calgary from Argentina, didn’t have the means to cover her university tuition.
Unfazed, Romeo applied for, and received, UCalgary’s Chancellor’s Club Scholarship — an award that reinforced her confidence as a student and largely eliminated financial stress. As well, she says, the scholarship allowed her time and support to pursue her other passion: varsity field hockey.
“I wanted to balance sport and education, and I looked around at other universities,” Romeo says. “UCalgary was definitely the best fit, made even more possible by that fabulous scholarship.”
The Chancellor’s Scholarship — funded by Chancellor’s Circle donors — is unique in that it brings together up to ten recipients from across all disciplines every year. That small cohort gets to connect with the chancellor — in Romeo’s case, it was Joanne Cuthbertson, BEd’73, Hon. LLD’11 — who spends time with the students and facilitates their introduction to faculty members and community mentors. “Being part of that special group put me in touch with people in my field, as well as with these other students who were as passionate and driven as I was, but who had other interests and ambitions,” says Romeo.