“I was very shy growing up. I was never what you would call a leader,” Tina Rohner says via Skype from the Philippines, where she works for Asian Development Bank (ADB). “But at Converse, you have the opportunity to take on all these different leadership roles. And because it’s all-women, it offers an environment where you feel like you can speak up, everyone listens to you, and they’re very respectful of you—even if you have an accent.” (She also speaks French and Mandarin Chinese.)
Rohner selected Converse from her home in southern Bavaria, liking what she saw from “virtual” visits via the Internet. She was awarded a full tennis scholarship, and was drawn to the College’s embrace of international students. “From the first day, I had a lot of friends and people who helped me,” she says.
“There are great opportunities around the world, and I’m happy to help anyone at Converse who’s interested in any kind of advice I can provide.”
Among numerous activities, she was a standout on Converse’s nationally-acclaimed Model League team, where students debate as diplomats; the NCAA Division II tennis team; and Student Government. She also was awarded opportunities for advanced studies in Dubai, at Georgetown University and Bard College. “I felt like I had a ride from heaven because it just was all right there at your fingertips,” she says.
After completing undergraduate degrees in economics and politics, she turned down offers from Harvard and Yale to pursue master’s degrees in public affairs and public policy in Paris and Singapore, where she worked for Goldman Sachs. Today, she travels from Armenia to Pakistan for ADB, working on investment strategies to support the company’s mission for a “poverty free Asia.” In 2013, ADB reported $4.7 billion in investments that helped connect 600,000 people to telephone service and 70,000 households to clean water.
Rohner, 31, is also committed to helping fellow Converse alumnae tap into a world of opportunities. Marisa Esformes ’14 introduced herself to Rohner during Reunion Weekend, and Rohner was so impressed she recommended Esformes for the prestigious Goldman Sachs Rising Leaders Forum in Hong Kong. Selected from among 67 candidates worldwide, Esformes thought she could never afford to attend. Next thing she knew, “Everything was set in stone and paid for. Tina sent me a full itinerary, with airfare, and she even got me an apartment,” says Esformes, now an international art broker in Miami. “It was awesome enough that she recommended me. I was so thankful for what she did and her exact line was ‘Promise me one day you’ll pay it forward.’ That was the contingency.”
Says Rohner: “There are great opportunities around the world, and I’m happy to help anyone at Converse who’s interested in any kind of advice I can provide.” Now she’s trying to bring another ace tennis player to the College from Singapore. “We’ll see if I also have my first official recruit at Converse,” she says with an optimistic laugh. “My door is always open, and I love helping these young ladies.”
Originally published in Converse Magazine, Spring 2016