Rianna DiBartolo-Cordovano, ‘12, attended the University’s Summer Scholars program in 2007. The program brought her to Richmond and is leading her on a fantastic journey of academic discovery.

DiBartolo-Cordovano took Dr. Paula Lessem’s Biogenetics class during her Summer Scholars experience. When she applied as an early decision candidate, she was accepted and returned to the University. She participated in undergraduate research in biology and electron microscopy during her first year and the following summer. The summer after her second year, she joined a summer study abroad program to the rain forests of New Zealand and Australia.

DiBartolo-Cordovano took a breather from her studies and activities to answer a few questions about the Summer Scholars program and the impact the program has had on her academic choices and career that have followed.

What was the most memorable part of being a Summer Scholar for you?

I most distinctly remember the last night of the Summer Scholars program. Most of us decided to stay up all night and watch the sunrise. By the time that the early morning came around, most had fallen asleep. However, another girl and I were still awake, and we went outside to watch the sunrise. We walked all around campus as the sun peaked over the trees, and in the cool morning air the campus was peaceful and pristine. I felt completely at peace.

How did your experience in the program affect your desire to attend Richmond and/or pursue college education in general?

I intended to apply to University of Richmond before the program, but throughout the Summer Scholars program I discovered that out of the 13 universities I had visited, University of Richmond was the only one that I actually wanted to attend.

What’s your major?

I am pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in mathematics, and I have been recently accepted
into the Departmental Honors Program. I am very excited about the opportunity."

What are your long-term goals after graduation?

Right now I know that I want to pursue a Ph.D. in some sort of applied mathematics and then hopefully work for a government agency, culminating in a professorship when I am older and have a family.

However, I am not sure if I am going to take some time off after graduation to either work in the mathematics field or apply for a teaching program such as Teach for America or World Teach before going to graduate school, or if I will go immediately after graduation.

What kinds of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities do you enjoy?

I have been president of the Sprinting Spiders Running Club, which I helped found, since my first semester. I danced for the hip-hop and step team for a year but have now decided to join the club swim team. And I am a member of the Student Alliance for Sexual Diversity and of Safe Zone.

I participated in undergraduate research in biology and electron microscopy my first year and the summer following, and this summer I participated in a summer study abroad program through the School for Field Studies where I lived and learned in the rain forests of New Zealand and Australia.

What advice would you give to a student considering the Summer Scholars program?

If you are able to attend the program, take advantage of that opportunity. Since you are looking at the program you are probably like me, ready to go to college, and this three-week program is a great chance to experience college before graduating high school.

Obviously, it is more structured than college actually is, but it is still an amazing experience. The faculty and staff running it try their hardest to make it a rewarding experience, and I appreciated high school more after returning because my goal of attending a top university was actually tangible. That made the work and applications of senior year more interesting.

Life is an adventure, enjoy the adventure and live life to its fullest. If that means attending the Summer Scholars program, do it.

Any final words of wisdom to those considering the University?

My experiences at the University of Richmond and the opportunities that the University has provided me are irreplaceable and have very much shaped me into the woman that I am today. They all began with the Summer Scholars program.