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Honors student, family promote higher education with scholarship

Rudy Calderon
September 14, 2012

“My dream job is to be an international diplomat for the United States abroad and work with organizations such as the United Nations, the European Union or UNICEF,” Rudy Calderon, a senior at Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, says when asked about his goals.

Calderon’s interest in the international community has been growing since he graduated as valedictorian from Metro Tech High School in Phoenix in 2007, and embarked upon a year of studying abroad in Taipei, Taiwan, as an exchange student with Rotary International.

Calderon had been admitted to Arizona State University with scholarships, including the four-year Presidential Scholarship, when he accepted the yearlong Rotary-supported study abroad opportunity in Taiwan, where he studied Mandarin Chinese.

“At first I had no interest in going to Asia, or to Taiwan specifically. But then I found myself on a plane to Taiwan and after being there for one day, I fell in love with it,” Calderon said.

In addition to gaining an affinity for Taiwan, its people, its language and its culture, Calderon also gained an understanding of the significant role China plays in international affairs.

“I came to learn that China is an important factor in the world economy and in politics and that if I had any interest in working in international relations, I needed to know about it,” he said.

After his stint in Taiwan, Calderon returned to the United States and ASU in 2008 to begin his studies.

Calderon explained that he originally thought about attending a university on the East Coast, but the universities he was interested in didn’t offer scholarships that could be deferred until he completed his study abroad year in Taiwan. ASU offered the scholarships and flexibility he needed.

Additionally, he had heard about Barrett, The Honors College through a high school teacher but had missed the application deadline because of his overseas studies. After researching information about the college, he decided to meet with a Barrett recruiter and got the go-ahead to apply. He pulled together a completed application as well as four letters of recommendation within a week and was accepted into Barrett.

He is currently on full academic scholarship and is scheduled to graduate in spring 2013 with a dual degree in Global Studies from the School of Politics and Global Studies and Mandarin Chinese from the School of International Letters and Culture. The School of Politics and Global Studies and the School of International Letters and Culture are academic units in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

While at Barrett, Calderon has received scholarships to participate in the college’s study abroad programs to China and Peru. In addition, he has been busy with student programming as a hall council president for the Residence Hall Association and as a community assistant with ASU Housing for the past two years. Calderon has been re-elected as president of ASU’s Multicultural Greek Council where he facilitates 11 multicultural fraternities and sororities. As a member of Tau Psi Omega fraternity, he was chosen 2012 Fraternity Member of the Year as part of the Annual ASU Greek Awards. He also is a volunteer mentor for the Rotary’s international youth exchange program for high school students from Europe, Asia and South America. 

Calderon also served as a delegate to Rotary’s 100th International Convention in London in 2009, where he took part in a youth conference and leadership training. After the conference he visited young Rotarians in England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

Calderon hopes to pursue graduate degrees in international relations and global affairs. He plans to apply for a Rotary scholarship worth $25,000 that would help pay for a master’s in International Relations and Global Affairs in Beijing. He also wants to obtain a doctorate in the same field.  

Calderon says his drive to achieve academically came from his father.

“My dad had a strong foundation in education in Mexico and he says to me ‘I’ll be really happy when you get a PhD,’” Calderon said.

Calderon also wants to do his best to be a good role model for his four siblings, ranging in age from seven to 19 years old. It’s obvious that he’s already set a good example and his siblings are accomplished in their own right. His younger brother, Jorge, also graduated as valedictorian of his class at Metro Tech High School and is a Barrett honors student on academic scholarship. Another brother, Gerardo, is a senior at Bioscience High School in Phoenix and hopes to attend a university on the East Coast. The two youngest siblings, sister Lorena and brother Alfonso, are in fourth and second grade respectively at Granada Primary School in Phoenix.

Such is the Calderon family’s commitment to education that they have established the No Excuses/Sin Excusas Scholarship to promote higher education to students of all backgrounds. The scholarship of a minimum of $500 is dedicated to all ambitious students who have a goal of pursuing higher education regardless of what their life situation might be.

The scholarship is inspired by the family patriarch, Alfonso Raymundo Calderon, whose mantra is “You have no excuse whatsoever to succeed. Everything is possible, even if life throws you curveballs.”