Meilenys Peraza always had an interest in Japanese. That interest grew into a full-blown passion after she took her first Japanese class in high school with a teacher who lived in Japan for over 40 years and spoke fluent Japanese.
To fulfill her dream of becoming a translator and interpreter in both Japanese and Korean, Meilenys knew that only a few, select schools would offer both languages as majors. The Ohio State University was one such school.
Through the Young Scholars Program (YSP) in Cleveland, Meilenys was able to pursue her desired career path while attending Ohio State. Young Scholars in good academic standing receive a robust financial aid package consisting of federal and state grants, work-study, and the Young Scholars Award. “Without the Young Scholars program, I would not have been able to afford the opportunity to learn both of my favorite languages at a prestigious university like Ohio State.”
Not only did YSP allow Meilenys to become a Buckeye, it also helped to prepare her for college. Because of programs like Summer Academy and Summer Bridge, Meilenys was able to familiarize herself with campus, build an extensive support network, and gain a deeper understanding of college courses. YSP helped Meilenys in ways that she hadn't realized until after her freshman year when other students related how different their experiences had been compared to hers. “YSP provided me with resources like success coaching, a financial advisor, a peer mentor, and tutoring, which were all so helpful in shaping me into the person I am today and pushing me towards experiences I may have never tried on my own.”
One such experience was the opportunity to travel in 2017 to Japan in May through the Office of International Affairs and to Korea from June to August through the U.S. Department of State. “In Japan, I was able to conduct research, interview Japanese natives, volunteer at an English language club, and participate in academic excursions to learn more about my host country and its language.” In addition to bonding with the other students on her trip, Meilenys was able to create lasting relationships with her host family and language partner through cross country trips and family outings.
“In Korea, I had a similar experience with the addition of intensive language study and culture classes.” Both trips, she says, were amazing, and Meilenys was able to learn more about her future goals, her host countries, and herself. Although there were some rough patches like language barriers and cultural differences, despite the hardships, Meilenys says she would “definitely do it all over again.”
Meilenys is currently a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and participates in the Art Scholars program, allowing her to take her first trip outside of Ohio to New York and Washington D.C. to meet other students who were interested in art. She attended shows and performances for the first time and was able to learn more about the art world. “Art Scholars helped me to expand my comfort zone and be open to new experiences and new people, which led me to become an RA.” As a Resident Advisor, Meilenys learned about leadership and was able to put her creative skills to use developing programs for her resident students. “I believe that without these two experiences, I would have been missing integral skills that I relied heavily upon during my time abroad such as adaptability, problem solving, and independence.”
Meilenys hopes to graduate in May of 2018 and is in the process of applying for English teaching assistant positions in Japan and Korea. She should hear about the positions in the spring and could move to one of those countries to work. “My plan is to return to the United States after a few years to attend graduate school and receive a Master’s Degree in Translation and Interpretation for both languages.”