Young Alumna from Germany Gives International Student-Athlete Scholarship
By Courtney Hammett ’19
Thanks to one remarkable alumna, Tina Rohner ’07, Converse is providing a four-year scholarship for an international tennis player beginning in the fall of 2018. Valentina Aparicio, an 18-year-old from Buenos Aires, Argentina, will join the Valkyries tennis team and study math and physics. “Creating this scholarship is a great opportunity for me to give back to Converse and to open doors for another young woman. A Converse education can take her further than she would ever have imagined,” Rohner says.
“Creating this scholarship is a great opportunity for me to give back to Converse and to open doors for another young woman. A Converse education can take her further than she would ever have imagined,”
Over the eleven years since her graduation, Rohner has worked all over the world, in investment banking, private equity and development finance. Originally from Kaufbeuren, Germany, she described her pre-Converse self as shy—a surprise for the standout tennis and Model Arab League star. She took a massive risk by enrolling at Converse, having never traveled to America until the day she arrived for her freshman year. Rohner selected Converse based on “virtual (Internet) visits.” As a member of Converse’s Nisbet Honors Program, she received funding for an international research trip one summer to Dubai, where she studied changes to women’s roles over the last few decades. She credits the accepting and challenging environment at Converse—as well as its all-women environment—with helping her become the leader she is today. “At Converse, you feel like you can speak up, everyone listens to you, and they’re very respectful of you,” she said.
Tina Rohner stands along a street in the Philippines, where she works for Asian Development Bank.
Thanks to a full ride scholarship, Rohner graduated with degrees in economics and political science, minors in Chinese and business administration, and a 3.99 GPA. After internships in Washington, New York, and Dubai, she earned two graduate degrees, turning down Yale and Harvard for the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore and Sciences Po Paris. At both of these schools, she continued to play tennis. Fittingly, she speaks English, German, French, and some Mandarin Chinese.
Rohner worked for Goldman Sachs and the International Chamber of Commerce, and is now with the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Her work for ADB involves striving for a “poverty-free Asia,” utilizing her business skills for humanitarian work. She travels to countries ranging from Armenia to Pakistan, and from the Philippines to Georgia, yet still finds time to serve on the Converse Alumnae Board and help young students.
This scholarship is not the first time she’s assisted a Converse student. During Reunion Weekend a few years ago, she met Marisa Esformes ’14 and recommended her for the distinguished Goldman Sachs Rising Leaders Forum in Hong Kong. To ensure the opportunity, Rohner even paid for the trip expenses. Her only stipulation for Esformes? “Pay it forward when your turn comes.”
Rohner is paying it forward, herself, with gifts each year for the next 4 years to fund her scholarship. She knows firsthand how difficult, yet life-changing, studying abroad can be.
Armed with the new scholarship, Valkyries’ head tennis coach, Katie Mancebo, set out to recruit an international student with academic promise and a passion for tennis, which led her to Aparicio. “I’m really looking forward to meeting my coach, Katie, Tina Rohner and my team! I believe I’ve made the best decision in my life,” Aparicio said. “Converse is a great school and it has given me the opportunity to study and play my favorite sport.”
“I’m really looking forward to meeting my coach, Katie, Tina Rohner and my team! I believe I’ve made the best decision in my life.”
Aparicio hopes to eventually study civil engineering, so is planning to delve into math and physics at Converse. “I love the idea of solving problems using my math and physics knowledge. Apart from that, I admire engineers since they are problem-solvers.” Bringing confidence and a positive attitude, it’s easy to see why she is the choice for this inaugural scholarship. Converse is pleased to welcome Valentina Aparicio into the class of 2022 and to the tennis team—a Grand Slam for the Pink Panthers and Valkyries!
In her new role as benefactor, Rohner is also excited to see what lies ahead for Aparicio. “I would probably not have achieved even a fraction of what I have without my experience at Converse,” she said. “Converse gave me so many opportunities that would have been completely out of reach for me otherwise.”
Top photo: Valentina holds her Converse scholarship packet at her home in Argentina.