WORCESTER, Mass.–Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) senior Alexia Bililies has been named a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar for the 2009-10 academic year.
A Bedford, Mass. resident, Bililies double majors in international and Hispanic studies at WPI, and will graduate with high distinction in May. Over the next year as a Rotary Ambassadorial scholar, Bililies will study for a master's degree in disaster management at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. The one year, $24,000 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship program helps further international understanding and friendly relations among people of different countries and geographical areas. While abroad, scholars serve as goodwill ambassadors to the host country and give presentations about their homelands to Rotary clubs and other groups. Upon returning home, scholars share with Rotarians and others the experiences that led to a greater understanding of their host country.
As a WPI student, Bililies has studied Spanish language and culture in Granada, Spain. She also completed an interdisciplinary project on HIV/AIDS prevention strategies in Windhoek, Namibia. In fall 2008, Bililies completed her senior research project while working on the People's Pharmacy Project with Caritas Internationalis in Santiago, Dominican Republic. In addition, she has served as an intern with the Massachusetts Public Health Association in Boston and the Bureau of Prisons Federal Medical Center in Ayer, Mass. She is a member of Phi Sigma Sigma, Crimson Key, and the Social and Legal Issues Club, and has served as a volunteer in the Worcester community.
"I am very excited and honored to have been chosen as a Rotary Ambassadorial scholar," said the 23-year-old Bililies, who praised WPI's curriculum and faculty members. "The university has helped me achieve so much, and my professors, Bland Addison and William Baller, have been my guiding lights throughout my time at WPI. They changed my experience here."
W.A. Bland Addison Jr., WPI's associate professor of humanities and arts, is Bililies' faculty advisor and mentor. "Alexia is not just a bright and articulate young woman; she also embodies a warm and generous attitude toward others, particularly to those who face misfortune," he said. "She has taken advantage of all that WPI has to offer to prepare her for a career dedicated to serving the medical needs of others throughout the world. Alexia will bring both a bright mind and warm soul to bear upon the myriad health problems faced by the less fortunate of the world."
The Rotary Foundation's Ambassadorial Scholarships program is currently the world's largest privately funded international scholarships program for university-level studies. Since 1947, nearly 38,000 men and women from about 100 nations have studied abroad under its auspices. Examples of outstanding Rotary alumni include Bill Moyers, an American journalist; Sadako Ogata, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Paul Volcker, former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board; Carlos Alberto Da Mota Pinto, former prime minister of Portugal; Otto Borch, Danish ambassador to the U.S.; Helmut Jahn, architect; Chiharu Sakai, Japanese pianist; Kerry Healey, former Massachusetts lieutenant governor; and Roger Ebert, a popular film critic.
Bililies joins Akanksha Sharma '08, Helena Zec '06, Christin Reynolds '04, and Karen Kosinski, '02 as recent Rotary Ambassadorial scholars from WPI.