Twin Sisters Receive U.S. Dept. of State Critical Language Scholarships

Jennifer and Jessica Miller at Tiger Hill Garden in Suzhou, China.

Jennifer and Jessica Miller at Tiger Hill Garden in Suzhou, China, in 2007.

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 23, 2009 – Southeast Missouri State University twin sisters and seniors Jennifer and Jessica Miller, both international business majors from Dongola, Ill., have received United States Department of State Critical Language Scholarships to attend an intensive Chinese summer institute.

The scholarships are administered by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers for the purpose of increasing the number of Americans that can speak needed foreign languages such as Chinese by providing them with opportunities to study such languages abroad.  The scholarships will fully cover the costs of the program including travel, instruction, and housing.

To apply for the scholarship and the Chinese programs, students must have completed at least two years of study.  Both girls have previously studied abroad in Shanghai, China, and Kaohsiung, Taiwan.  Along with this they have studied Mandarin at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. The two said that their language skills need much improvement, and they feel they will accomplish this through their respective intensive and academically-focused programs.

“Jennifer and Jessica Miller have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to learning,” said Dr. Gerald McDougall, dean of the Donald L. Harrison College of Business.  “This is best exemplified in their desire to develop skills and experiences that will allow them to be competitive in the global market place.   Research has shown that study abroad results in a higher degree of international engagement after an individual completes their college education.  Jennifer and Jessica have been involved in a wide range of study abroad experiences including a summer program in the Peoples Republic of China, a summer program in Taiwan, and a semester of intense study in Spain.  Now, they will be able to build on these experiences, and improve their foreign language skills, by their participation in the Chinese Institute sponsored under the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Program.”

The twins will not be spending the summer at the same institute.  Jennifer will be studying in Suzhou, China, while Jessica will be studying in Harbin, China.  Both plan to stay for a little over two months.

“I enjoy living and studying in other countries,” Jennifer said.  “I plan to continue traveling in the future.  Thus, I think knowing foreign languages is very important.”

“Hopefully, I’ll return from this program knowing much more Chinese than when I started,” Jessica said.  “In my major, I believe that knowing Chinese is a very valuable asset.  Thus, I plan to use what I learn from the program in my future career.”

The sisters will both graduate with 4.0 grade point averages this May, and plan to attend graduate school in the fall.