Memory of Gina Rosko, AustraLearn Alumni, Lives On In Annual Study Abroad Scholarship
Memorial Scholarship Awarded To Minnesota State University – Mankato Student For Study At Macquarie University
By Stacey Hartmann, GlobaLinks NewsWire Editor
Almost nine years after Gina Rosko’s death, memories of her vibrant smile and personality still warm the many hearts that must beat on through life even without her.
“It’s been almost nine years and it’s unbelievable that it’s just like yesterday,” says Marlene Rosko of the loss of her “brilliant, beautiful” daughter, a journalism/advertising major from Kenosha, Wis., who died on Aug. 7, 2000, in a car accident in Australia.
“Her dream in her life was to go to Australia,” Rosko says of her beloved daughter, who was a fourth-year student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee when she decided to study abroad through AustraLearn at Macquarie University in Sydney. “That’s what she wanted to do.”
And now, because of a scholarship in her name awarded annually by AustraLearn in cooperation with Macquarie University and the Rosko family, another student is about to realize a dream of studying abroad in Australia.
“I am so incredibly grateful and feel very blessed,” responded Jake Hayes, a senior communications studies major at Minnesota State University – Mankato, after learning he’d received the Gina Rosko Memorial Scholarship, which will cover more than $13,000 in program and housing fees, leaving only insurance, the student union and program introduction costs. Hayes also received $1,000 from the Foundation for Asia Pacific Education.
Hayes will leave in February 2010 for one semester at Macquarie, where he plans to study advertising or media classes.
“I’m working two jobs right now,” Hayes says, “but it definitely helps take a huge load off that I won’t be incredibly in debt.”
Gina Rosko was 21 when she died, a devastating loss for her mom Marlene, her dad, Jim, her sister, Ashlee Nelson, and many family members, friends and acquaintances.
Marlene Rosko describes her daughter as someone who was great in sports, trendy and had a special way of connecting with people and friends.
Rosko isn’t sure what specifically sparked her daughter’s strong desire to experience life in Australia.
“I don’t know if it was the koala bears,” she says. “I don’t know if it was the beauty. But I think what locked it in was because the Olympics were going to be there.”
While her daughter’s time in Australia was short, Marlene Rosko says she knows Gina lived her life there to the fullest through her studies at Macquarie, activities like swimming in the Great Barrier Reef and visiting the rain forest, and of course, her many great friendships.
“Many of her friends are still a part of our family’s life,” Marlene Rosko says, “even the ones Gina met at school in Australia.”
Like Gina Rosko, Hayes became fascinated with Australia long before he decided to study abroad.
“Australia really struck a chord with me,” he says. “It’s so isolated from the rest of the world. It has a history similar to the United States as well as all of this unique stuff that developed there.”
The Macquarie campus memorialized Gina Rosko by planting an orange tree. In fact, she has many trees, as well as a peace garden, planted all over the world in her memory, Marlene Rosko says.
“She loved traveling, she loved family, friends,” she says. “She had many, many friends. She was a great person, really.”
AustraLearn’s description of the Gina Rosko Memorial Scholarship serves as a reminder of all she accomplished in her 21 years:
“Born on Nov. 16, 1978, in Kenosha, Wis., Gina was a graduate of Tremper High School and in her fourth year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, studying journalism/advertising.
“Her collegiate memberships and awards included Golden Key National Honor Society, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Deans’ List, Phi Eta Sigma, Public Relations Student Society of America, and teaching assistant for American Indian Ethnic Studies. She also had articles published in the UWM newspaper, The Post.
“In her memorial service, friends and family paid tribute to Gina’s life and her ‘magical ability to connect with others.’”
Marlene Rosko knows her daughter enjoyed every single moment of her time in Australia.
“I am speechless – I really am,” Marlene Rosko says, “that someone gets to go to school and enjoy the time that she didn’t.”
“This scholarship, in particular,” she says, “is just a real tribute to her life and who she was.”
Kathryn Olinger, AustraLearn’s director of student services and programs, says, “Gina’s death is something we all still feel deep sadness about, but the message through this scholarship is still so positive and encouraging.”