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UNG pair win national Chinese scholarships

Cody Bijeaux, left, and Mark Stiles have been awarded a $10,000 scholarship to study in China for a year. The two Chinese majors are among only 10 students across the nation awarded the scholarship this year.

Two University of North Georgia (UNG) students each have received a $10,000 Chinese Government Scholarship to study in China for a year. The scholarship, awarded by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), is given to only 10 students nationally from among the 400-plus AASCU member institutions.

Mark Stiles China
Mark Stiles, center, previously studied in China, but a
$10,000 scholarship will allow him and fellow UNG student
Cody Bijeaux to study in China for an entire year.

Cody Bijeaux, a cadet, was happy to learn that fellow Chinese major Mark Stiles had received the award, but disappointed.

"Because they only offer 10 scholarships, my first reaction when I heard Mark got it was 'Man, that means I didn't get it,'" Bijeaux said. "I checked my email every day for notification and when I checked it a few hours after hearing about Mark, I saw 'Congratulations, you've been accepted' and I was ecstatic."

Bijeaux, a junior from Canton, Ga., and Stiles, a senior from Niceville, Fla., became interested in Chinese through UNG's immersive Summer Language Institute. Mark changed his major to Chinese from physics, and both students plan to continue their language studies in graduate school.. .

"At first my family was wondering why the sudden change and they were confused," Stiles said. "They're proud of me, especially when I told them about the scholarship and all the opportunities available to me. They understand what I can do with it."

Both previously studied in China through UNG's study abroad program, and are looking forward to spending an entire academic year at Zhejiang Normal University. Bijeaux also has a separate grant to study elsewhere in China this summer. Courses will be taught in Chinese and both hope to study another language – Japanese for Bijeaux and Korean for Stiles – that would be taught in Chinese, too.

"Once you learn how to study for a language class, you use those same habits to learn another language," Stiles said. "The reason it's hard the first time is because it's new and you don't know how to study for it."

Bijeaux and Stiles credit the support of faculty, administrators and staff in the Department of Modern & Classical Languages and the College of Arts & Letters for success in their Chinese studies and in earning the scholarship.

"Mark and Cody deserve credit for how hard they have worked in developing their Chinese language abilities, including their work in China," said Dr. Chris Jespersen, dean of UNG's College of Arts & Letters. "The fact that both were offered scholarships is also a credit to the faculty who developed the program. This is very exciting for Mark and Cody and for everyone at UNG involved with the Chinese language program."

Chi-Hsuan Catterson, an instructor who helped start the university’s Chinese program in 2006, said she is thrilled that both plan to continue their language studies.

"As a faculty member, I am happy for them, but it also is an affirmation of what we have been doing," Catterson said. "I have no doubt that our Chinese program is solid and these two are a testimony to that."

The year in China will delay their graduation, but both say it's well worth it for the experience and knowledge, and encourage others to consider studying abroad. Bijeaux said funds are available to help cover the costs of studying abroad.

"If you want it, work hard for it and you'll get it," Bijeaux said. "That's what happened for us. We worked hard and now we get to go to China for a year."

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