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Student Spotlight: Adriana Otalora


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By Rachel Miles


On Tuesday September 23, I sat down with Adriana Otalora to find out a little more about one of the freshmen at Roanoke. Adriana comes to Roanoke College from a town called Winter Springs just outside of Orlando, Florida. She picked Roanoke, she said, “Because I really wanted an out of state school and a religious school. When I visited Roanoke College, I loved the campus so it seemed perfect.” She also told me that she was excited by the opportunities that Roanoke could give freshmen because of its small size.

When I heard where she was from, one of my first questions for her was how she felt about the winter here. She told me that it was already too cold, and that she’s heard rumors that this winter is supposed to be an extra cold one. Nonetheless, she said she was excited to see the snow. Although, when I asked a little later what she would change about Roanoke, her Florida side came out and she said, “I do wish it was in a warmer state. That’s really one of the hardest things I’m dealing with.”

We began to talk about classes after a little while, and Adriana is taking some interesting classes including Chinese and sociology, which is her favorite. Adriana is already fluent in four languages including Korean, French, English and Spanish, which is her first language. She told me she didn’t learn English until she began school around age 7. Her other classes focus on her major, which is Criminal Justice. She said, “I volunteered in a police department back in Florida, and I fell in love with it. I want to be either an investigator or work with juveniles.”

She told me that while she wanted a school experience outside of Florida and doesn’t necessarily want to move back there after she graduates, she can’t wait to go back home for fall break and see her family. The hardest thing about freshman year, as is the case for the rest of the school years to come, is managing time between classes and meetings and just dealing with the business. Her major goal for the year is to balance fun and good grades. This led her to telling me the best piece of advice she’s gotten from an upperclassman so far this year, which was to “make sure you have fun while you’re in school. Enjoy every minute of it, because apparently it flies by,” she told me and smiled.

Adriana has taken this to heart, though, and become involved on campus with things that are important to her. Outside of class and hanging out with friends or in her pod, she has become involved with Intervarsity, Maroon Baptist Fellowship, Outdoor Adventure, and Young Life. When I asked her what her favorite event on campus so far has been, she said, “I went to a volleyball game on September 20, and I was really impressed. We have a really good team!” And as the year goes on, she hopes to continue finding ways to balance finding great events and keeping up with academics.