Suse Sampaio Simoes Fulfills Dreams, Finds Adventure at Chaminade

The beauty of traveling is in understanding that no matter what you do, something amazing will happen, and no matter where you go, you will end up somewhere unforgettable. – Suse Sampaio Simões

Suse Simões, a Communication major from Brazil, is a self-described “dream chaser.” At Chaminade, Suse has been  involved in the Spanish Club, Zumba, social media, and service-learning but is especially addicted to travel. She has been able to fulfill her dream of studying while traveling through Semester at Sea, and will pursue a career as a diplomat. Suse’s adventure blog is: SuseTraveler/

An interview with Suse:

You describe yourself as a “dream chaser.” What dreams have you  fulfilled since you have attended Chaminade?

Getting a degree from Chaminade has fulfilled several dreams. Just coming to Hawaii was a dream. [As I was growing up] it didn’t seem possible, financially and emotionally, to move to a distant place, where I would most likely struggle far from family and friends. But Hawaii seemed to be such a magical place that for me it was worth it. Today, I call paradise my home.

Attending Chaminade University was also another dream come true. I found the opportunity to grow academically and professionally, pursuing a degree that had seemed out of my reach. Now, I will be the first person in my family to graduate from an American institution.

I always knew traveling was one of my greatest passions, but I never knew how to make it happen. Semester at Sea, the study abroad program that takes students around the world on a ship, had at first seemed financially out of my league. Nevertheless, with scholarships and the support of my family and Chaminade faculty, it became a reality.

Now, I am leaving Chaminade with not just simply new dreams, but also with the passion and faith that I can accomplish them.

What was the most inspirational or meaningful event or moment that has happened to you on your travels?

The beauty of traveling is in understanding that no matter what you do, something amazing will happen, and no matter where you go, you will end up somewhere unforgettable.

I traveled to Morocco to volunteer last winter break by myself. People thought I was crazy — really, crazy. I went anyway, and volunteered at a humble day care for a whole month. When I got there, I thought I would meet some amazing little kids and that I was going to learn so much about them. I did; but it was so much more than that. I never expected to get so close to the children’s teacher, who invited me to her home to meet her family. The moment when I was sitting at the table with all of them, sharing a huge plate of Moroccan food, surrounded by Moroccans that cared so much about me, and did not care about our differences, reminded me that there are so many good people in the world just willing to help without anything in return. It touched me to do the same.

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote or thought?
“Above all, be true to yourself, and if you cannot put your heart in it, take yourself out of it,” by Hardy D. Jackson. All of us, at some point in life, feel unhappy about something we are doing, making our lives and those next to us miserable. Life is meant for us to do things that we love and are passionate about. The more passion we have for our life, the more beautiful it will be, in our eyes and others’. Being true to ourselves, and respecting others the way they are, makes the world more pleasant. It does not hurt to inspire others and motivate those that have lost their passion along the way.

What’s next? If you could go anywhere, in any role, where would you go, what would you do?
My plans are to go back home and pursue a career in diplomacy, where I hope to keep traveling the world for the benefit of my country and others. However, there are many places I would still like to visit and discover. If I could go anywhere right now, it would be Cuba. I love history, which makes Cuba a winner, since it seems to have been “stopped” in time. I am also a dancer, and the Salsa Cubana is my favorite music style. Despite the struggles, Cuba still manages to be alive in such a beautiful way. I will make it there someday.

Devan Rostorfer is the Outstanding Hogan Entrepreneur of the Year


I’ve changed from being a curious young woman to maturing into an individual driven with a passion to make a difference in this world. Devan Rostorfer

Senior Devan Rostorfer, a Biology major, was awarded the “Outstanding Hogan Entrepreneur of the Year” award for 2013. Devan’s experiences in the Hogan program helped her define a passionate direction for her life.

The Hogan Entrepreneurs program is a certificate program in very practical business studies. Open to all majors and undergraduates as well as graduate students, (not just business majors), the program recognizes that any graduate has the potential to start something new. New ideas that contribute to society and the well-being of communities benefit everyone, but also can make for successful, thriving businesses. The Hogan motto is Doing business things that make social sense. Doing social things that make business sense.”

This spring, Devan will graduate with a  degree in Biology and will receive an entrepreneurial studies certificate from the Hogan Program. At Chaminade, she has worked in the lab of Dr. Helen Turner, Dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, studying immunology, and also conducted pharmaceutical research with Dr. Joel Kawakami, Associate Professor of Chemistry. Devan has been involved in numerous service projects.

Devan says the Immersion Program in India with the Hogan Program was a life changing experience. In all, she was in India over two months, spending her first five weeks working with the poor and another two weeks experiencing the various cultural and historical sites. The two-week Hogan Program followed afterward and saw her delve into the business side of India and look into how the country was coming along economically.

Devan in India

Devan in India


“Traveling to India had a huge impact on my studies, direction, and perspective,” she noted. “I know now I want to do something in water sanitation, waste management, and food security, which are desperate areas of need for parts of India and other developing countries.”

Devan’s immediate plan after graduation is to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. She has been accepted into a master’s program to study Environmental Planning and Policy, with a unique emphasis on resource management, industrial ecology, water sanitation and urban development.

Her dream is to create an environmentally-sound community development plan, which can be tailored and used in countries everywhere, starting with India. The essence of this plan would be to use local residents to clean up their own communities, which she feels would generate jobs, improve public health, and enhance social development and education.

Lofty goals for sure, but Rostorfer believes her Hogan Program studies have begun to prepare her for success. “I’ve changed from being a curious young woman to maturing into an individual driven with a passion to make a difference in this world,” she said. “The Hogan Program allowed me to blossom and grow, changing my life and making me a better person.”

Devan and classmates at Chaminade clubfest

Jessica Vork Receives International Study Abroad Award

Student profile

Jessica Vork, a Senior majoring in Biology, spent a semester immersed in the culture and language of Denmark. She received the Platinum Award Certificate for Intercultural Leadership from the Danish Institute for Study Abroad.

I chose to take risks, knowing they may very well be out of my comfort zone, accepting that I would be known as “the American.” To this day, I have yet to regret any of my choices. –Jessica Vork

Jessica Vork writes:

Upon my arrival in Denmark, I chose to strongly channel Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous words “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” While I should apply this mantra to my life as a whole, I saw the DIS study abroad program as an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I will never get a chance to redo and I refuse to have moments where I will wonder “what if” or “I should have.”

Fortunately, my study abroad experience was quite the opposite of being filled with terrifying moments. However, I do believe I have confronted fear in the face in a different sense. I consider myself to have a fairly passive personality and can be considered one who avoids confrontation. While I do still believe I possess some of those characteristics, I believe being in Denmark has made me a stronger, more courageous and confident women. For that, I couldn’t be more grateful.

I chose to take risks, knowing they may very well be out of my comfort zone, accepting that I would be known as ‘the American.’ To this day, I have yet to regret any of my choices. Each experience, whether it be living with a host family, volunteering at various events, or attending seminars I normally wouldn’t, has molded me into a person I have always wanted to become. I feel fearless, confident in my own skin and more active in pursuing my dreams whether it is to find my way to the nearest Lagkagehuset, to do better on my exam, or to take in every bit of Danish culture that time allows. It would have been much easier to take part in activities I was already accustomed to and comfortable with, while simultaneously immersing myself in the Danish culture. For example, at my home institution of Chaminade University, I was the captain of my soccer team before I chose to study in Denmark. Instead of relying on activities I was already extremely familiar with, I chose to immerse myself in those completely out of my realm, such as the Creative Painting Workshop with Anna Birk. I found these types of decisions to be very important in initiating my own cultural immersion.

Find out about Study Abroad opportunities at Chaminade.