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56 Dominicans glean an education at USU

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Aldo Rodriguez, right, hugs brother Alex, watched by USU first lady Joyce Albrecht. Aldo Rodriguez and 55 other Dominicans will attend USU through a partnership between the country and university.

Aldo Rodriguez, right, hugs brother Alex, watched by USU first lady Joyce Albrecht. Aldo Rodriguez and 55 other Dominicans will attend USU through a partnership between the country and university.

Tyler Sipe, Deseret Morning News

Hector Rosario's dreams are coming true.

The student from Dominican Republic arrived in Utah this week as part of a scholarship agreement with Utah State University, a venture bringing 55 other students — shepherded by the nation's Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology — to the Logan campus.

There, the 22-year-old Rosario will pursue his dreams of becoming a civil engineer, a high-demand occupation in the Caribbean nation.

"It's a very big deal," Rosario said of coming to USU. "I always dreamed of studying abroad. It's like a dream come true."

Classes start Monday.

The university has a uniquely close relationship with the Dominican Republic, which shares an island with Haiti.

Since the early 1980s, it has sent faculty, research staff and students to work with government on water projects and irrigation engineering — efforts that have received a Dominican presidential commendation.

In June 2000, the Dominican government provided $1.5 million to send 36 students to USU under the Presidential Higher Education Program for Superior Students. The competitive program covers tuition, room, board and books.

Those students, many of whom have earned degrees (a few are finishing up, USU reports), returned to their home country "very well trained," minister Ligia Amada Melo de Cardona said through interpreter Juan Luis Lozada Cardona, her grandson, a USU graduate and president of the newly formed Dominican USU Alumni Chapter.

"Everyone is working in the Dominican Republic. Everyone is doing well," she said. "We want to continue this kind of involvement."

Last April, the Dominican government invested another $4 million in the program's second phase in an agreement signed by President Stan Albrecht and Dominican President Leonel Fernandez Reyna at his palace in Santo Domingo. The money funds the 40 undergraduate and 16 graduate students here now.

USU provides quality engineering, communication and technology-based programs, all high-demand careers in the Dominican Republic, the minister said.

"Because of the globalization of the world today, students need to have more global focus," she said.

Never has the university had such a close relationship reaching the levels of a nation's education ministry, which then shepherds blocks of students to the school, said Steven Hanks, USU vice president of international affairs.

"The ongoing relationship is exciting," he said.

The Dominican students represent one-fourth of USU's 200 new international students, who bring diversity of culture and experience to the university, Hanks said. In all, USU has about 1,000 international students, many from India and China.


E-mail: jtcook@desnews.com