Lopera Cardona earns German summer language scholarship

In the true sense of the liberal arts, a Cornell College biochemistry and molecular biology major will dedicate much of her summer to studying German after she was awarded a prestigious language scholarship.

Sofia Lopera Cardona
Sofia Lopera Cardona

The German Academic Exchange Service, or the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) as it’s known in Germany, has given Sofia Lopera Cardona a Summer Course Grant to explore the language through online learning.

“This program provides scholarships to attend a broad range of summer courses at German universities, which focus mainly on German language and literary, cultural, political, and economic aspects of modern and contemporary Germany,” said Lopera Cardona, a rising senior from Medellín, Colombia. “Extensive extracurricular programs complement and reinforce the core material.”

She says she submitted her resume and a letter, both in German, as part of the application process. The letter explained why she wanted to participate in the program and how improving her language skills would contribute to her future goals.

“I was thrilled for Sofia when she told me the good news,” said Assistant Professor of German Studies and History Tyler Carrington. “There are DAAD grants for almost every major and career path at Cornell College, and Sofia is a great example of someone who’s not actually majoring in German but sees the payoff of learning German so she can do graduate research in Germany later on and open up a ton of doors for herself.”

Lopera Cardona says she picked up her passion for speaking German in high school. While she hasn’t taken German courses at Cornell yet, she participates in extracurricular activities offered by Cornell’s German Studies Department and the German Club to practice the language, as well as studying it on her own.

Lopera Cardona is also looking forward to using what she learns this summer when she travels abroad with Carrington next school year, Block 8 of 2022. The course, Investigating German Pasts & Presents, allows students to explore Vienna, Munich, and Berlin.

Until then, Lopera Cardona will be busy with her education, especially this summer. 

“I have an internship in the pharmaceutical industry that runs from May to late July, and my summer course with the DAAD begins the week after I finish this internship,” Lopera Cardona said. “I hope this program will help me to significantly improve my conversational skills in German as well as get a sense of what it is like to study in a German school.”

Writing Studio Director of Fellowships and Scholarships Laura Farmer says Cornell students have a great track record when it comes to applying for competitive fellowships and scholarships on a national or international level, like the DAAD.

“I think the block plan and a strong background in the liberal arts can give Cornellians an advantage,” Farmer said. “Because our students don’t just do one thing. Like Sofia, they might study chemistry and teach in the Dungy Writing Studio and learn languages and pursue creative writing. This confluence of identities shapes our students into global citizens and helps position them for future success.” 

After Cornell, Lopera Cardona plans on going to graduate school for medicinal chemistry and would like to have a career in research and teaching.