Passing on a Love of Learning

Worldwide Campus professor creates scholarships for military veterans

With eight university degrees and 30 years spent living abroad, Donna Roberts (’10, WW) has always had a love of learning.

An associate professor and chair of the social sciences and economics department and undergraduate research at Embry-Riddle’s Worldwide College of Arts and Sciences in Germany, Roberts says she wanted to help students who share her passion for education, especially those in the military.

That is why she and her husband, Sergio Del Bianco, made a generous planned gift to Embry-Riddle, creating an endowed scholarship in their names to help students long term. The couple, who met in Italy and have been together 22 years, are also funding a term scholarship to immediately help undergraduate or graduate students with financial need.

“Valuing education so much, I wanted to give back to something that is meaningful to me,” Roberts says. “Education opens doors and changes people’s lives in tangible ways.”

The couple also wanted to help students who are serving their country. The endowed and term scholarships will have a preference for Worldwide Campus applicants who are active duty or military veterans.

An American in Europe

An only child growing up in upstate New York, Roberts was always curious about the world. She moved to Europe in 1987 and began working for the University of Maryland (UMD) in Heidelberg, Germany, in 1991.

“I was the first person in my family to have a passport and go that far away,” she says. “I just fell in love with Europe and wanted to stay.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling from UMD, then worked as a counselor for the Army Community Services Family Advocacy Program. In 1997, she moved to Aviano, Italy, and got a job with the University of Oklahoma (OU). She earned master’s degrees in both adult and higher education and human relations from OU.

“I was just interested in taking classes; then before you know it, there was a diploma in my hand,” she says of her multiple master’s degrees.

Embry-Riddle Journey

Roberts began working for Embry-Riddle’s Worldwide Campus in Italy in 2003, eventually becoming the chair of sociology and psychology for the College of Arts and Sciences. She earned master’s degrees in both aeronautical science and business administration in aviation at Embry-Riddle.

“I wanted to expand my horizons and understand the aviation environment a bit more,” says Roberts, who has now worked nearly 15 years for Embry-Riddle.

After 10 years in Italy, she moved back to Germany to become the regional associate dean for the Worldwide Campus’ European Region, then was promoted to the dean of academics for the International Region. In her present roles, Roberts teaches, develops curriculum and writes everything from textbooks to monthly psychology columns for online pop culture magazines. Her students come from around the world, bringing a diversity of backgrounds and experiences.

“Embry-Riddle students are people who are going to change the world, and we want to help them reach those goals,” Roberts says.