Emily Schlieff ’17: Driven to pursue dreams

Restricted scholarships encourage individual passions while helping Oles access the broad benefits of a St. Olaf education. The Robert A. Rossi Endowed Scholarship supports qualifying students majoring in mathematics.

Photo of St. Olaf Student Emily Schlieff '17

Emily Schlieff ’17, a math major at St. Olaf College, plans to attend graduate school to further her study of applied mathematics.

“My ultimate dream would be helping improve human space exploration at NASA,” she says.

With those ambitions, it might be hard to believe that Schlieff came to St. Olaf without any idea of what she wanted to study.

During Interim her first year, she decided to complete a requirement in abstract and quantitative reasoning by taking a linear algebra course.

“I ended up loving it! I decided to major in math because of it,” says Schlieff.

As a math major, Schlieff received a scholarship established by a St. Olaf alumnus who worked at NASA himself.

“Having the Rossi scholarship has definitely kept me on track in my math degree because I am reminded that someone wants me to be here working to get a higher education.”

 

Bob Rossi ’68 was inspired by his math classes to pursue a career in computer programming after he graduated from St. Olaf. He ran a computer in the Navy and went on to develop software for the Space Shuttle.

Rossi says that his $600 scholarship from St. Olaf “made the difference between me being able to attend St. Olaf or not.” He wanted to establish his own scholarship for math majors in honor of Professor Emeritus of Math Onotas Stanaitis, “who taught me how to think.”

Schlieff, a recipient of the Robert A. Rossi Endowed Scholarship, credits the aid she received as one of the most important factors in her ability to pursue her initial interest in math.

“To be quite honest, my final deciding factor in choosing St. Olaf was the affordability, all thanks to my scholarship,” says Schlieff. “Having the Rossi scholarship has definitely kept me on track in my math degree because I am reminded that someone wants me to be here working to get a higher education. St. Olaf has given me a wonderful education, many lifelong friends, but most importantly four great years of memories,” she says.Student Emily Schlieff Holding NASA Patches

Schlieff has been involved with Science Alliance and Alpha Phi Omega on campus, and she says that the most memorable experiences that she has had during her time at St. Olaf are her study abroad trips. She spent one semester in Milan, Italy, where she studied business, and another learning Russian in St. Petersburg.

But at the end of the day, the class that has had the biggest impact on Schlieff was an abstract algebra course with St. Olaf Associate Professor of Mathematics Ryota Matsuura.

“I struggled to learn such a new subject, but he was there for me every step of the way!”