Current Scholar Spotlight: Meilenys Peraza

Meilenys Peraza with Japanese manMeilenys 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.”


Prior Spotlights

Yehosef Thomas Spotlight

Yehosef Thomas Spotlight

Yehosef Thomas knows that diversity matters because people matter, and how individuals, communities, and the world deal with questions of diversity can have profound implications for the future. He sees diversity more as how people relate to one another than as an abstract board room concept that needs to be deal with quickly and effectively.

 Read more about Yehosef Thomas.

LeRoy Ricksy Spotlight

LeRoy Ricksy Spotlight

Growing up in Harlem in New York City, LeRoy Ricksy loved football. Especially that “team in red.” As he got older, the “team in red” became Ohio State, and LeRoy realized the school also had a great academic side. “From there, I applied, received a scholarship as a Morrill Scholar, and there was no chance I would tune it down.”

 Read more about LeRoy Ricksy.

Melanie Russell spotlight

Melanie Russell spotlight

Melanie Russell’s path to medical school began in the 6th grade with a request to come to the guidance counselor’s office at the Cleveland School of the Arts. “I didn’t know why I was asked to come to the office; I thought I was in trouble!” Instead, Melanie was told about the Young Scholars Program. 

 Read more about Melanie Russell.

Carly Sobol Spotlight

Carly Sobol Spotlight

Growing up in a small community in Dayton, Ohio, Carly Sobol was fortunate to receive a great education, be surrounded by inspiring individuals, and have a strong family unit. “My family was one of a few Jewish families in the neighborhood. I learned at a young age the value of tradition and the challenges that come with being unique. I loved explaining my heritage to friends and learning more about theirs.”

 Read more about Carly Sobol.

LaRazia Tolbert Spotlight

LaRazia Tolbert Spotlight

The neighborhood in Youngstown where LaRazia Tolbert grew up wasn’t the kind of place, she says, where people wanted to stay or come back to. “Where I’m from, no one says they want to return; everyone is trying to escape with no looking back.” But LaRazia looks at her community from a different perspective: she, too, wants to leave but only so that she can return and bring back what she has learned and better where she is from.

 Read more about LaRazia Tolbert.

Alexis Myers spotlight

Alexis Myers spotlight

When she first came to The Ohio State University as a Young Scholar, Alexis Myers never thought of herself as someone who could be a role model or a mentor. Little did she know that at Ohio State, Alexis would become an Academic Success Partner within the Young Scholars Program. “When I came to Ohio State, I never thought of myself as someone who could be a role model or a mentor for anyone else, but when this opportunity came to me, I knew I needed to take advantage,” she said. Read more about Alexis Myers.

Kyla Wilson spotlight

Kyla Wilson spotlight

Kyla Wilson has put a lot of thought into her career path. “I always wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer, but I hate science so that didn’t work. As for the law, I like reading, but law just bored me!” Her uncle would tell Kyla, who was good at math, that since she was in the fourth grade, she should know her multiplication tables. “He made me work in a composition book every day over the summer.” By the end of the summer, Kyla was hooked, and she knew that arithmetic was going to play a part in her future.

 Read more about Kyla Wilson.

MiChaela Barker spotlight

MiChaela Barker spotlight

Through the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program, The Ohio State University and 10 additional Ohio colleges and universities are helping to increase underrepresented student success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.  As one of 78 LSAMP scholars on the Ohio State campus, MiChaela Barker has found a community that not only understands her on a cultural level but on an academic level as well. Read more about MiChaela Barker.

Shelly Martin spotlight

Shelly Martin spotlight

If there is one thing that Shelly Martin has learned, it is that education can light up a dark world. And when she realized that her passion was people, she combined those two certainties into her life’s work and purpose. Read more about Shelly Martin.

Zaid Hightower spotlight

Zaid Hightower spotlight

The spring before Zaid Hightower was ready to begin classes at The Ohio State University, he received an email from the Todd A. Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male, inviting him to attend the Center’s Early Arrival Program (EAP). It was his mother who read the email and told Zaid that he needed to attend the program. Read more about Zaid Hightower.


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