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Senior Story 2020: Maria Rossini

Senior Story 2020: English Major Takes Literary Love to Virginia

Maria RossiniDate published: May 12, 2020

Name: Maria Rossini

Hometown: Richardson, Texas

Major: English 

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,” she said.

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 work. 

“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 said.

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 Commencement ceremony.