University of Mary Washington senior Shirley Naa-kowaa Martey’s quest to become fully fluent in the Chinese language will soon become a reality. The political science major is the recipient of the Chinese Critical Language Scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
Shortly after her graduation this May, Martey will travel to China for nine weeks to immerse herself in the country’s culture and language.
“This scholarship means an opportunity to move toward my goal of attaining proficiency in Mandarin [Chinese] in an immersive environment,” said Martey, who added that she has searched for ways to learn Chinese language and culture beyond her classes at UMW. “I want any opinion that I contribute to be one that people take seriously, and the scholarship puts me on that path.”
This is not the first travel abroad experience for Martey, who spent eight weeks at the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan as a recipient of the 2013 Ambassador Summer Scholarship from the Taiwan-U.S. Sister Relations Alliance (TUSA).
“While I was in Taiwan, my post-graduation plans changed from going straight to grad school to focusing on becoming fluent,” Martey said. “I don’t want to be that fresh-faced student who reads books about China, has some language classes, and thinks she is qualified to talk about China in a graduate school or a professional setting. That’s not credible.”
Martey, who describes herself as Ghanaian American, hopes to teach English in Taiwan and eventually seek her master’s and doctoral degrees.
“Martey’s is precisely the type of prestigious academic achievement of which the UMW community should be proud,” said Jack Kramer, chair and distinguished professor of political science and international affairs. “It says a lot about the quality of our students and the education they receive here.”