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Department of Modern Languages
The University of Mississippi

Modern Languages Student Ambassadors

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Ainsley Gordon

Ainsley Gordon

Ainsley is an honors Chinese and computer science double major with a minor in mathematics. As a member of the Chinese Language Flagship program, she used her computer science skills to participate in several initiatives with the Flagship Tech Center that supports students in these federal programs located at 12 different universities. One example was a User Experience Strategist to network students across the nation. She chaired the Tech Center’s Student Advisory Council, and lead a team that created a winning app design to learn languages.

 

Why did you choose to attend UM?
I grew up about 30 minutes away from Oxford and was in town just about every weekend for football games. Ole Miss is my home; I’m not sure I could picture college anywhere else.

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
I don’t have a cool story as to why I chose my majors…I just study things that interest me. I started out as a Chinese and economics double major, but I bounced around. I finally decided on a double major in computer science and Chinese with a math minor.

What are your career goals?
I’m not really sure! I’m free-spirited, so I’ll just go where the wind takes me.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
My favorite professor is Rongrong Hao. She encouraged me when I first started studying Chinese, and I don’t know if I would still be studying Chinese without her. All my Chinese professors have been amazing, though!

What has been a particularly meaningful way you haveengaged in a community – either on or off-campus?
I’ve enjoyed working with the Language Flagship’s Tech Center in Hawaii; I get to utilize the skills I’ve learned through studying a language in lots of cool ways.

What do you like to do outside of school (hobbies/interests)?
I love being active… hiking, kickboxing, jiu jitsu, etc. You’re more likely to find me in the gym or on the trails than in my own apartment.

What are you binge watching/reading/listening to?
I’m on a rock music kick right now, so I’ve been listening to a lot of Pink Floyd.

What are some dream travel destinations (and why)?
It would almost be easier to list where I don’t want to go… I’d like to visit Kyoto, Paris, London, etc. Most of all, I’d like to study abroad in China so I can utilize my language skills.

 

Perla Arellano

Perla Arellano

Perla is an international studies major in the Croft Institute and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College with minors in Italian and intelligence and security studies.

 

Why did you choose to attend UM?
I decided to attend Ole Miss because I absolutely love the atmosphere and all the programs the university has to offer. Whether it’s academics or extracurricular activities, there’s a lot to do here.

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
I decided to major in international studies with the Croft Institute because learning about different cultures and countries and how they all interact is a passion. Since the Croft Institute requires its students to learn another language, I decided to minor in Italian because I have love the history of Italy and I find the language interesting. I am also minoring in intelligence and security studies because I have always found it interesting (not just because I love Criminal Minds!!)

What are your career goals?
I plan to become an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Intelligence Community, preferably for the CIA.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
My academic advisor Dr. Schenck has been extremely helpful to me since I arrived at Ole Miss. Whether I’m having issues with my schedule, having trouble with Italian, or even just needing someone to talk to, he has always been there for me.

Have you had an experience that made you feel empowered at UM?
The first time I walked into the football stadium with the Ole Miss Marching Band is something I’ll never forget. Music is a large part of my life and to be with a large group of others passionate about music as well and performing for a large crowd makes me feel amazing.

What are you binge watching/reading/listening to?
Avatar the Last Air Bender. Literally, since Netflix has added it to their shows I have watched the show like two times because it’s just always been a comfort show of mine!! I recently started reading a lot of poetry books, especially those written by Rupi Kaur. I love her style of writing and I find her books comforting to read. I listen to any music, my playlist will go anywhere from regular pop music to Latino music to lofi and to classical instrumental music. Really just about any music.

What is your favorite place to eat in Oxford?
If you have not been to Volta Taverna you are missing out on some of the best Greek food! Their food is amazing and the service is always welcoming. The place has a r cool vibe going on and is definitely worth the wait for a table!!

 

Reed Peets

Reed Peets

Reed is in the Croft Institute’s international studies program and a Spanish major. President of the Sigma Nu fraternity, he has travelled extensively in Latin America and interned while abroad: Make a Miracle in Lima, Peru; Endeavor Uruguay in Montevideo, Uruguay; and Hispaniola Mountain Ministry in Polo, Dominican Republic. That time abroad helped his language abilities, resulting in the Most Outstanding Advanced Spanish Student Award. He was also able to be a Congressional Intern for two different member of Congress.

 

Why did you decide to major in Spanish and international studies?
I saw tremendous opportunities for personal growth within these majors. Born and raised in Jackson, I wanted my four years in Oxford to coax me outside of my cultural bubble. The Croft Institute and the Spanish program have fostered in me a multicultural perspective, challenged me to celebrate nuance, and forced me to embrace discomfort.

Why should someone decide to study your majors at the University of Mississippi?
Both International Studies and Spanish are perfect majors for students who crave exploration. If you find language and culture exciting and you want to learn how to think with a global perspective, these majors are a great match.

Career goals?
After graduation, I’d like to spend a few years working for a non-governmental organization in Latin America before coming back to the States for graduate school in international relations.

Have you had an experience at UM that made you feel empowered or gave you a leadership opportunity?
This semester I spearheaded a $20,000 letter-writing campaign for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Mississippi through my fraternity. My aunt passed away from CF before I was born, so it was empowering to rally the support of my closest friends behind such a personal cause.

Any particular support or encouragement you have received from a professor?
Professor Ashleen Williams from the Croft Institute has been an incredible friend throughout my time in Oxford, always encouraging me to see the opportunity in every situation. Professor Klodt, Professor Otero, and Professor Gowan have been ever-present encouragers throughout the difficult process of learning a new language.

What is an especially memorable trip, research, internship, or other school-related activity you’ve done?
From July to November, I interned virtually with Endeavor, a non-profit organization focused on the empowerment of entrepreneurs across the globe. Since I worked with their office in Uruguay, all of our meetings were conducted in Spanish—to translate my classroom learning into the world of business was a rewarding challenge. With my original plans of completing this internship in Montevideo dashed by the pandemic, pivoting to a virtual format was an awesome learning experience.

What are you binge watching?
La casa de papel.

What is your go-to meal in Oxford?
Ka Prow Kai with an egg from Zapp Thai.

What do you enjoy doing outside of academic pursuits at UM?
I love playing tennis at the city courts, running at the South Campus Rail Trail, and listening to live music on the Square.

Kaitlyn Read

Kaitlyn Read

A French and international studies double major with a Korean minor, Kaitlyn has greatly expanded her international education while at UM. She is a Global Ambassador who works with international students and a conversation partner with the Intensive English Program. She is president of the French Club and president/co-founder of French Book Club. She is in the Croft Institute for International Studies Senate and Ambassador, and competes with the Model UN and Mock Trial teams. Better yet, Kaitlyn studied abroad in both Angers, France, and Seoul, South Korea.

 

Why did you choose to attend UM?
Aside from it being the official most beautiful campus in the United States and having the unofficial best color combination in the SEC, I chose the University of Mississippi for the Croft Institute of International Studies. I studied French all throughout middle and high school and wanted to continue with it in college, so I looked for places that offered amazing opportunities with foreign languages. I knew I wanted to use foreign languages in my career, but I wasn’t sure how to do that without being a teacher. Then, I foundthe Croft Institute, which is incredibly unique to UM, and it had everything I wanted! Four years later, it still has everything I wanted!

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
I’m an International Studies major with double minors in French and Korean. I chose International Studies and French immediately upon entering college because it was the whole reason that I decided to come to UM. I hosted a French exchange student in high school and over the three weeks that she lived with me, we became best friends even though neither of us were perfect at the other’s native language. Through this experience, I learned that I could be missing out on so many friendships and cultural experiences strictly because I couldn’t speak a language, so I decided then and there to devote my time to learning foreign languages. So, my sophomore year after I got settled into a nice rhythm on campus, I wanted to add another one. The year before, I became interested in Korean music, made Korean friends, tried Korean food, and overall, fell in love with Korean culture, so Korean was the only logical choice! They both compliment International Studies super well because I’ve had the chance not only to study abroad twice and practice my language skills, but also to develop an understanding of the history and culture of both Europe and East Asia.

What are your career goals?
My career goals honestly change at least once every week because I have so many options both within and outside of my field, but I’ve been pretty consistent in wanting to work with a non-profit that helps rehabilitate and resettle North Korean refugees. Ever since I joined the Model United Nations team as a representative of the UNHCR committee, the committee devoted to helping refugees, I’ve had a growing interest in using my education to help those who I feel need it the most. People are more aware of refugee crises in other parts of the world because we usually learn about North Korea in regards to politics only, so I want to bring awareness to the situation with the human beings living there.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
Dr. Hickman of the Anthropology department has been an amazing help, particularly over the last 3 years of my college career. I met her the first semester that she was at UM when she was my Croft professor for Middle Eastern studies and then loved her so much that I took her class on Sound Anthropology the next semester! Since my focus is in social and cultural identity, I enjoy the way she teaches and discusses culture, especially in the context of language. She’s been so helpful by talking to me outside of class about different programs that I’ve applied for and overall just by helping me understand that my interests aren’t crazy just because they’re unusual. She’s made me want to study and work for what I’m passionate about, and now she’s my thesisadvisor!

What has been a particularly meaningful way you have engaged in a community – either on or off-campus?
I’ve spent a lot of my time working with the international student community on campus, and I can confidently say that it’s had the most positive impact on me that I could’ve hoped to get from my college career. My freshman year, I joined the IASA, the International and American Student Alliance because I wanted the international students to know that they were welcome on campus. My sophomore year, I became a Global Ambassador and volunteered my time to make sure that the international students were having the best experience that they could, whether that meant providing transportation, English practice, or my favorite, friendship. Though the international community at UM is huge, I worried that they were unforgotten by the majority of campus, so I wanted to do my best to counteract this. Now, after having experienced being an exchange student myself, I’m that much more passionate about fostering a welcoming environment of both assistance and cultural understanding. We can learn so much from each other if we only listen, even if it is through a translator!

What do you like to do outside of school (hobbies, interests)?
I absolutely adore music and the performing arts, particularly theatre, so I’m always listening to something new or watching a performance I found on YouTube. I’m an even bigger fan of Korean music and variety shows, so I spend a lot (most) of my time indulging in videos, performances, interviews, episodes, you name it! In my defense, I’ve learned so much Korean from this, so I’m lucky my hobbies line up with my assignments haha! I also love working out and training for half marathons and have spent most of the year going to exercise classes with my mom. If I have time, I love to read and make music whether it be violin or piano, and I like to dabble with lyric writing for my eyes and my eyes only.

What do you want to change about the world?
If I said that I just wish people would be kinder, would I sound too much like the girl from Mean Girls? Seriously though, if there’s anything I’ve learned from meeting people of all different cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds over the years, it’s that we are missing out on so much due to our internalized fear and ignorance of those with lifestyles different from our own. If we could take a few minutes to talk to someone and actually listen to what they have to say, instead of assuming we wouldn’t get along or mindlessly arguing, we could spread such a positive vibe to those around us. Educating yourself is fun! Your worldview only gets bigger and the possibilities become endless! A flight attendant recently complimented my mask that simply says “kindness” on it, so I have hope of a future world filled with mutual understanding and respect.

Abigail Metcalf

Abigail Metcalf

An honors student who is a double major in Arabic and International Studies, Abigail is part of the prestigious Arabic Language Flagship program and studied abroad at the Modern Arabic Language International Center in Amman, Jordan this summer. She selected the Global Economics and Business thematic emphasis for her international studies major with the Croft Institute for International Relations. She is a Croft ambassador and a member of the Chi Omega sorority.

 

Why did you choose to attend UM?
I chose to attend UM because of the opportunity it gave me to study Arabic in an in-depth and immersive way through the Arabic Language Flagship Program. Also, I knew that programs like the Honors College and Croft would give me small class sizes that allow for more discussions and opportunities to get to know my professors.

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
I chose my majors when I decided to attend Ole Miss and join the Croft Institute and the Arabic Language Flagship Program. I decided to double major in Arabic and International Studies with a focus in Global Economics and Business because I want to work with refugees in the future, and studying Arabic will help me communicate more effectively with refugees that speak Arabic. Also, international studies will help me learn more about how the relationships between countries and the dynamics within them affect people around the world.

What are your career goals?
I would like to work with refugees, but I’m not sure yet if I will do that through a legal career, the government, or the private sector. I have also considered teaching because I enjoy helping others connect the classroom to real world experiences.

Is there a professor who has been particularly helpful to you?
My Arabic professor Dr. Clark has been helpful in teaching me how to rethink the way I view mistakes. Rather than seeing them as a failure, he has taught me to view them as an opportunity for growth. Removing the stigma around mistakes creates a safe space for learning to happen.

What will be your legacy at UM?
When I graduate from Ole Miss, I want to be able to look back and say that I never let a fear of failure stop me from challenging myself.

What is your favorite place to eat in Oxford?
My favorite restaurant is Rice and Spice. I love the red curry!

What are some dream travel destinations (and why)?
I would love to travel to Egypt to practice my Arabic and visit the historical cities and ruins. I would also love to go to Italy and France to visit the art museums there.

Emily Suh

An English and Linguistics major, Emily is principle oboist in the University of Mississippi Symphonic Band and a member of the Korean Students Association. In her spare time, Emily enjoys reading, watching anime, and admits she may watch too much Saturday Night Live for her own good.

 

Why did you choose to attend UM?
One of the defining factors that made me choose UM was the fact that it was close to home for me. But what also made me choose UM was the beauty of the campus. There is so much plant life and huge trees, and it offers a natural environment to work in.

When and why did you choose your major(s)/minors?
I chose my major pretty early. By senior year of high school, I knew I was going to major in English, but it wasn’t until the end of the first semester of my freshman year that I decided to double in Linguistics. I chose Linguistics because I always had a love for language and how it works in society and literature.

What are your career goals?
Honestly, I’m not one-hundred percent sure, right now. I’m in a constant battle between teaching, editing/publishing, writing, etc. But the great thing about my major is that I have an endless number of possibilities of what I can do! I do plan on going to graduate school after my undergrad.

What will be your legacy at UM?
I hope to be able to come out of Ole Miss as an inspirational student represent UM in a positive way!

What has been a particularly meaningful way you have engaged in a community – either on or off-campus?
I am currently an Academic Guide for Mission Acceleration. This is a tutoring program for elementary students to help with reading growth. Although I am unable to work in person this year, I will be working virtually!

What do you like to do outside of school (hobbies, interests)?
I like to read and write, but I also like to watch movies and shows. Parks and Rec is a favorite that I go through a lot. I love Disney movies and I will freak out about any new Disney movie whether it’s animated or Marvel-related. I watch anime as well, my favorite of all time is Barakamon, but Ouran Highschool Host Clubwill always hold a special place in my heart. I also play the oboe!

What are you binge watching/reading/listening to?
Currently I am watching New Girl. I can’t say I’m “binge watching” it because I’m in school, but I’m trying to get through it. Once I finish it, I’ll probably startSchitt’s Creek. In terms of reading, I have The Song of Achillesby Madeline Miller, and after that I’ll read “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. I’m listening to different music every day. I listen to a lot of TikTok songs (sadly) and any pop song that’s popular. Once Taylor Swift comes out with her version of Red, it’s game over. I’ll be back in the Taylor Swift vortex and you won’t be able to get me out.