Nora Maries sets sights
In her native Romania, Nora Maries (pronounced Mary-esh) worked hard to maintain a perfect 4.0, straight-A average. While finishing her senior year at Albion High School through the 1995-96 school year, she maintained that perfect grade point status.
"The people of Albion have been very nice and really supportive," Maries said. "I gained a lot from the cultural diversity of Albion. It helped me."
During the past year in high school, Maries gained many memorable American experiences by participating as a member of the swimming team, at Senior Prom, in assemblies and other activities. She has a growing photo album of Americana and treasures the friendships she has made in Albion.
She notes school here was a lot easier than in Romania, so she sought greater challenges.
Because of the advanced training in math and science Maries received in Romania, she qualified to attend Albion College during the past year. At Albion College, she managed to keep her perfect grade point intact - acing calculus and a sophomore-level biology course.
"Calculus was easy," she confides. "I had already taken it in Europe. I had taken a lot of math and physics. Biology 205 was really hard. The lectures moved fast. I had to write four 30-page papers with four primary sources, a bibliography , table of contents, tables and graphs.
I had to work five times harder (in Biology 205) than high school. It was stressing."
While the college course work in sophomore biology was difficult for the 17-year-old, her efforts won the praise of Albion College's Dr. Jeffrey Carrier, her instructor, who wrote her a nice letter of recommendation for her collegiate applications.
Maries has been accepted to Cornell University and other top colleges, including Albion College. And after a year in the Albion area with first-hand exposure to Albion College, Maries hopes to attend Albion College this fall, to become part of the class of 2000. She believes this educational opportunity will lead to a medical career in ophthalmology that she can take back to Romania. She adds new technologies and scientific advances in the field of medicine are much needed in her native country.
"I've already made a lot of friends at Albion (College) through the classes I took," Maries said. She adds, "The people of Albion have been really supportive."
Maries hosts for the Youth For Understanding exchange program are Ronald and Micki Ogilbee. The Ogilbees, who Maries describes as "like family," have extended their hospitality to offer room and board while their Romanian guest attends Albion College. She notes the generosity of the Ogilbees will save her considerable expense. An international student scholarship from Albion College will also defray a large portion of the cost. Maries' parents, who live in the capital city of Bucharest, Romania, have saved to help her all they can. The Romanian economy, however, is just developing and its currency is devalued. It takes about 3,500 of the Romanian lei (pronounced lay), to make $1 U.S. When Maries first came to Albion last August, 1,950 lei equaled $1 U.S., which means the Romanian currency has devalued about 80 percent in less than a year against the now strong U.S. dollar.
"My family's resources are limited due to the hard economical situation still present in my country," Maries said. She notes the anti-communist revolution swept through Romania just seven years ago and in its wake left instability and uncertainty. "Now that we are a democracy, we are trying to build a capitalist economy. It's been difficult."
Despite the economic hardships of communist oppression, Maries' nurturing parents sacrificed to provide her with the best educational opportunities they could afford. From age five and up, she received tutoring in English. She also speaks Latin , French and Romanian (a European romance language) and understands Hungarian, which was a language her grandmother spoke. While in Romania, Maries learned English for two years from a Peace Corps volunteer, which she said helped her tremendously. She was also raised in the Roman Catholic Church, where she learned Latin.
In an effort to help her reach her dream of attending Albion College, the St. Johns United Church of Christ in Jackson has established a tax-deductible scholarship fund. Maries explains that St. Johns United Church of Christ has supported several projects to aid Romanians over the past two years.
"International students are not eligible for federal aid," Maries notes. "I need to raise at least $4,000 to be able to attend Albion College this fall."
In addition to corporate and individuals gifts or grants, Maries is also interested in job opportunities to help earn the funds she needs to attend Albion College.
"I've always enjoyed doing lots of things," Maries said. "I enjoy achieving things. I always work hard and I'm not afraid of hard work at all. I like keeping busy. I'd also like to have a life and a family too."
Anyone interested in supporting Maries' effort to attend Albion College may send donations of support in care of St. Johns United Church of Christ, 801 S. Mechanic St., Jackson, MI 49203. Please make checks payable to St. Johns United Church of Christ, with a notation on the memo line that the donation is for Nora Maries.
Any employer that may have a job opportunity for Maries, may write to Nora Maries, 505 Albion Road, Albion, MI 49224 or phone Ron or Micki Ogilbee at (517) 629-8625.
"I would like to thank all the people who have helped me already,"
Maries said. "The American generosity is truly overwhelming."