Honoring Her Mom’s Passion with a Scholarship

Honoring a legacy while fostering a better understanding of the culture and politics of Spanish-speaking countries

A view of Fairfield Way including some fall color

A view of Fairfield Way including some fall color. (Peter Morenus/UConn photo)

Dorothy Rossini Allen ’48 (CLAS) discovered a life-long passion for studying Spanish at UConn. She never lost her fascination with the language and culture of Spanish-speaking countries. She even participated in a Spanish discussion group at her assisted living residence when she was well into her 90s.

When Allen passed away last year, her daughter, Cathy Carlson, and Cathy’s husband, Steve, decided to honor her legacy with a scholarship for students majoring in Spanish.

“Dorothy sacrificed so much to go to UConn and always thought so highly of it that it seemed like a logical thing to do,” Carlson explains.

Allen grew up in the 1930s in a small apartment above the Italian restaurant her parents owned in New Haven. Her hardworking parents had immigrated from Italy and neither had finished high school. Their fondest dream was to send their only child to college.

After graduating from Wilbur Cross High School, Allen set off for UConn in 1944. She planned to major in sociology but soon discovered a passion for Spanish, spurred by her fascination with other cultures. To improve her language skills, she spent a pivotal summer at the University of Mexico.

“She loved Spanish,” Carlson explains. “She was excited about the diversity of Spanish-speaking countries.”

Carlson hopes the scholarship in her mother’s name will help foster a better understanding of the culture and politics of Spanish-speaking countries.
“We really need to reach out and inform ourselves better about what’s going on in those countries,” Carlson says. “I’m hoping that students who major in Spanish get into the field. I’m just a huge proponent of learning languages and Spanish is vital.”

She believes her mother would have been delighted to know that a scholarship was established in her name.

“Dorothy would have loved the chance to perpetuate the life-changing possibilities that her education at UConn afforded her,” she says.

Carlson, not surprisingly, is a language expert herself. She was an assistant professor of Italian at the University of Minnesota for several years.

“I love Italian for the richness of the culture and the country itself,” she says. “My grandfather and grandmother came from the same village in Italy. We’ve been back there quite a few times. It’s a distinct pleasure to reconnect with relatives.”

Carlson and Steve, a retired lawyer, live in Branford, Connecticut. Carlson now works as a freelance artist specializing in drawing cartoons and likes to spend her free time birdwatching and taking walks with Steve.