A seasoned traveler, Whitney Mayer 2012 has been to England, France, Wales, Ireland, Netherlands, and Belgium. And this summer the Pittsburgh native will add a new name to the growing list of nations she has the good fortune to explore. Mayer was recently awarded the Critical Language Scholarship through the U.S. State Department to study in China for the summer. She leaves in June.
“I’m not sure where I will live yet,” says Mayer. “It could be an apartment, dorm, or with a host family.” The announcement of her scholarship is so new that even the region where she will be living is to be determined. Choices include Beijing, Shanghai or Nanjing. “I’m very excited but nervous about adjusting to aspects such as the food and environment,” she says. The program includes a pre-departure course and then an intensive summer of studying Chinese language. Mayer, who is International Relations major with a Biology and Chinese minor, says she hopes to gain more fluency during the experience. “After graduation I plan to go to law school and I’m interested in working for the World Health Organization or perhaps becoming a patent attorney.”
Mayer learned about the prestigious scholarship from Greg Weight, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs. “She has worked very hard to become proficient in Chinese, supplementing her work at Ursinus by attending the renowned Middlebury Language School last summer, which features complete language immersion,” says Weight. “The Critical Language Scholarship will provide her with an invaluable opportunity to continue that immersive experience in either Beijing or Shanghai for eight weeks this summer, with at least 20 hours a week of intensive language training. Whitney eventually would like to develop Chinese language programs in American schools, particularly in underserved populations,” he says. “It is apparent that Whitney seeks to serve and to bridge both cultures.” Another Ursinus student, Jessica McIlhenny, is an alternative for the same scholarship program to Turkey. -KC