Rotberg is the first student from Duke to win the award, which recognizes aspiring foreign correspondents at American colleges and universities. Seven graduate students and five undergraduates make up this year’s winners.
“My ultimate goal is to be a foreign correspondent in the Middle East,” said Rotberg, a political science major who has studied Hebrew and Arabic.
The scholarship includes a $2,000 cash award and a weekend in New York. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper will deliver the keynote address at an awards dinner Feb. 17.
As it happens, Rotberg is already acquainted with Cooper -- she worked for him last summer as a CNN intern.
“The Arabic and Hebrew came in handy. I was asked to translate for [the show] Anderson Cooper 360˚,” she said.
Her first taste of foreign correspondence, however, came in London in the summer of 2005. As an intern for the Associated Press, she covered the July terrorist bombings on the city’s transit system. She also wrote an essay about the death of Fleet Street, London’s journalism district, which she submitted for the OPC prize.
“It was such an exciting summer to be in the city,” Rotberg said. “There was Live Aid, the G8 summit, Wimbledon. I loved my time in London.” She plans to relocate there after graduation.
At Duke, Rotberg has been active on the staff of the student newspaper, the Chronicle, since her freshman year, and won a Melcher Family Excellence in Journalism Award honorable mention for her three-part series on the Pillowtex textile mill closing. She currently serves as managing editor of Towerview magazine and co-president of the Nasher Museum of Art Student Advisory Board.
Rotberg said Ellen McLarney, assistant professor of the practice in the Department of Asian & African Languages & Literature, has been a mentor during her time at Duke. “She taught me Arabic 1 and 2, so I saw her at 8:30 in the morning for 5 days a week for a year,” Rotberg said. “We’ve kept in touch since then. She has been a definite role model for me.”
Political science professor David Paletz and Melissa Malouf, associate professor of the practice in English, also have been helpful and inspiring, Rotberg said. Rotberg studied American politics with Paletz and short-story writing with Malouf.
“What all these professors have in common is a commitment to getting to know their students on an individual level,” Rotberg said.
The Overseas Press Club of America is an association of international foreign correspondents based in New York. The OPC Foundation’s scholarship program was created in 1992 to recognize and support young journalists entering the field.