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Chinese Flagship Program 中文领航

Photograph: Sarah Schrader

Student Profile--Sarah Schrader


Schrader, a Senior Biology and Chemistry double major, has just become the first Flagship Scholar from WKU to complete the Capstone Year in Nanjing.  Schrader enrolled in upper level Biology courses and advanced Chinese courses at Nanjing University during Fall of 2012, followed by an internship at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Shanghai, China in Spring of 2013.

Schrader was awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for science research in 2012, taught English in Korea in Spring of 2012, was a summer intern at the Princeton Summer Undergraduate Research Experience program in 2012, and most recently was a 2013 Harry S. Truman Scholarship Finalist.  This summer she will be conducting research in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the Sackler Institute at NYU.



1. What is your degree and major?

Bachelor of Science; Biology, Chemistry

2. Why did you choose to study Chinese?

I chose to study Chinese not only because of the rapidly increasing prominence of China in all aspects of the global market, which drew me from a practical standpoint, but also because of the deep and vivid culture and over 5000 years of rich history associated with the language, which captured my interest and ultimately led to my decision to begin exploring Chinese.

3. What specifically led you to choose the Flagship Program?

The main factor that drew me to the Flagship Program was the rigor of the courses. On top of lectures twice a week, we attended three weekly drill classes and one individual tutoring session; in our first semester, we covered the entirety of the textbook that took the regular Chinese classes an entire year to read through. While challenging, this intensive atmosphere allowed us to quickly gain a basic handle on the language so that we could begin using it to communicate outside the classroom after just a few months. This could only be accomplished, of course, with the extreme dedication of our teachers, who always strove to help us in whatever way they could. The opportunities to travel to China and have the chance to immerse myself in the language and culture were also important and very unique factors in my decision to join the Flagship Program at WKU.

4. What are the most rewarding things about flagship?

There are many rewards that come with being a Flagship scholar. One is the opportunity to meet and interact with incredible classmates who come from a variety of disciplines and all have something unique to contribute to the program. Another is the chance to travel to exciting and historical locations all around China to enhance our global understanding and international competence while having fun. But perhaps the most rewarding thing about being a Flagship scholar is realizing just how much I have truly learned. I can talk in Chinese to the friends I have met both here in America and abroad through phone and instant message, watch Chinese movies almost as effortlessly as English ones, sing along with the top Chinese pop songs, and even read three-hundred page novels. I know that I still have a very long way to go, but it is encouraging to see the incredible progress my classmates and I have already made as Flagship scholars, and I am looking forward to continuing this progress as I strive for superior level proficiency.

5. How has your Flagship Program set you apart from other students? What advantages has the program given you?

Being a Flagship scholar has enhanced my future prospects and given me a global perspective. With the language skills I have already gained through the Flagship program, I know that a world of unique and incredible opportunities is waiting. On top of superior language capabilities, after completing the Flagship Program I will additionally possess a deep and thorough understanding of the Chinese culture, equally as important as language skills for effective professional communication in international settings.

6. How has The Language Flagship helped you to discover your role in the world?

While other students are restricted to a limited view of our world from the comfort and security of America, I have had the opportunity to broaden my perspective on the world, its struggles, and its successes, allowing me to shape my own goals in order to better serve the global community. I am more aware than ever that America, while powerful, is just one country in a world of many and represents just a small fraction of the diversity of cultures across the globe. Immersing myself in this diversity through the Language Flagship, I will be able to forge a more promising future.

7. What are your career goals?

I aspire to a research career as a geneticist and hope to use my Chinese language skills to collaborate with scientists in China and other Mandarin-speaking areas.

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 Last Modified 9/24/14