Senior Story 2020: English Major Takes Literary Love to Virginia
Date published: May 12, 2020
Name: Maria Rossini
Hometown: Richardson, Texas
Notable UD Memories/Achievements: Junior Poet; Writing for OnStage; Editing for the University Scholar; Participating
in Sigma Tau Delta; Cap Bar Conversations
Future Plans: Continuing on to Graduate School at UVA for a Master’s in English
This is the third in a series of eight stories that will be published to highlight the achievements of some of our seniors
in the Class of 2020.
When COVID-19 hit, Maria Rossini, BA ’20, was disappointed to have to leave her friends
so suddenly, especially during her last semester at UD. And although she may have
more time on her hands now, she says that “capturing the energy and support of the
community has been difficult” — a sentiment that will surely resonate with any student.
At the same time, she is an English major through and through.
“Reading novels and poetry seems to provide me with a kind of mental ‘space’ so that
I don’t feel so restless at home,” she said.
English seems to be a good-luck charm for Rossini, for it both eased her experience
with COVID-19 and, perhaps more importantly, brought her to UD. There were many things
that had an impact on Rossini’s decision to attend UD — like her siblings’ good experiences,
a semester abroad and a Catholic environment. What really excited her, however, was
the English Department.
Having known she wanted to be an English major from the age of eight, Rossini found
ways to be involved in English at UD beyond the typical classes; she wrote for OnStage
(UD’s drama magazine), edited for the University Scholar, and organized a variety
of events as an officer in Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society. Rossini tried
activities in other departments, only to reconfirm her love of English.
“Since starting college, I’ve done extracurricular activities involving politics and
philosophy, only to learn again and again that English is the discipline for me,”
Although she loves the English Department as a whole, Rossini thinks that Literary
Study I: Lyric, a class all English majors are required to take their junior year,
is what the department does best. Due to its time commitment and level of difficulty,
Junior Poet (as it is better known) is considered a four-letter word by many UD English
majors, but Rossini appreciates the uniqueness of this class as compared to other
schools, as well as the freedom she was given to explore her chosen poet.
“When I talk to students from other universities about it, they tell me how much they
wished their projects allowed them the freedom and breadth that JPo does,” she said.
For her Junior Poet, Rossini chose one of her all-time favorites: T.S. Eliot. In accordance
with the class requirements, she read critical biographies, all of his poetry, and
almost anything she could get her hands on about him. The class culminated in her
presenting her studies of Eliot as well as reciting parts four and five of his “Little
Gidding” to a panel of three English faculty members, who then asked Rossini questions
about her studies and findings. Difficult though it may have been, Rossini valued
“The junior poet project really is exceptional,” she said.
Rossin’s love for all things at UD did not mean she found UD to be easy. In fact,
the things she loved the most made UD the hardest. Because UD has such a strong community
as well as an emphasis on academic excellence, she sometimes found it difficult to
balance the two.
“I think the opportunity to talk to someone at the Cap Bar at any time of day despite
needing to work on yet another essay encapsulates my UD challenges pretty well,” she
The struggle to pull yourself away from a fruitful conversation at the Cap Bar is
one that UD students know well, but it’s not the worst one to have.
Rossini plans to attend the University of Virginia (which she chose with the help
of her professors) in the fall to pursue a master’s in English. Rossini believes that
the pursuit of a further degree in English will not only give her greater knowledge
of English, but also of life.
“The study of English feels like learning how to love — it’s difficult, it’s ambiguous,
it’s challenging, but the time and the effort you take to understand a book trains
you to put time and effort into life, too,” she explained. “A book is in some ways
like a friend that you learn to love, and it can teach you how to live and love life.”
"Maria was a wonderful student in my classes, with exceptionally clear, precise writing;
her analytical and interpretive skills are first-rate," said Associate Professor of
English Greg Roper, Ph.D., BA '84 (and a UVA alumnus himself). "With her cheerful, generous manner,
she was a delight to teach. I am so happy she is continuing the tradition of strong
UD students attending graduate school at UVA. I am sure she will impress everyone
there as much as she impressed us here."
Graduating and going to another school is exciting, but Rossini will miss UD and is
greatly looking forward to October, when the Class of 2020 will finally get their