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Two students win Freeman-ASIA scholarships

June 26, 2020

Twice, University of North Georgia (UNG) rising senior Zoe Rumbaugh has applied for a Critical Language Scholarship, and twice she was disappointed. In late spring 2020, she received some exciting news.

Rumbaugh and rising junior Phillip Ly were awarded the Freeman Awards for Study in Asia (Freeman-ASIA), which provide scholarships for U.S. undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need to study abroad in East or Southeast Asia.

"Honestly, I was surprised," said Rumbaugh, who explained her study abroad trip was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "I knew I couldn't go this time because of the coronavirus, but I was still excited. I have also learned they will let me roll it over for next summer."

The 20-year-old from Roswell, Georgia, will use the scholarship funds for a study abroad to Taiwan. Ly, who won three other scholarships to study abroad, will use the money for study abroad trips to Japan.

"Winning the Freeman-ASIA scholarship definitely showed that I put in the work to receive the scholarships, and I won't stop at four," said the 19-year-old from Forest Park, Georgia.

Ly noted while he may not be able to defer all of his scholarships, a couple may be used next year. Earlier this year, he won the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, the Fund for Education Abroad scholarship and the Boren scholarship.

Ly, who is pursuing a degree in strategic and security studies, said the immersive experience of a study abroad to Japan will help him achieve his future goals. The member of the Corps of Cadets aims to work in the State Department or become a translator for the military.

"I know people who have learned another language are several steps ahead of those who don't," said Ly, who plans to commission as a second lieutenant in the Georgia National Guard upon graduation.

Rumbaugh, who is pursuing degrees in East Asian studies and modern languages with a Chinese for global professionals concentration, has a similar aspiration to Ly. She dreams of being a translator.

"Translation requires a strong language ability and a good understanding of the culture, country and surrounding area," she said. "With a study abroad experience, I will be more sensitive and accurate with my translations because I will be aware of the cultural differences."

Rumbaugh's bonus includes learning about her birth country. She was adopted from China, which sparked her interest in the language and culture.

"I knew if I wanted to understand the country that I was born in and its culture, then I needed to learn the language," she said.

Rumbaugh studied Chinese in high school and attended UNG's Summer Language Institute, which cemented her decision to major in the language and culture. She then chose to attend UNG because of its Chinese Language Flagship program despite being a dual-enrolled student elsewhere.

"After I came here, I found more that made me want to stay," said Rumbaugh, who is a resident assistant and a member of the Honors Program on UNG's Dahlonega Campus. "Through the Flagship program, I attend different events and have access to great professors and tutors in my field of study. The Chinese Flagship program and being an RA made me glad that I'm at UNG."

Ly, who picked UNG for the Corps of Cadets, said UNG's faculty and staff have helped him succeed.

"I definitely could not have done it without the help of Dr. Anastasia Lin and Dr. Victoria Hightower from the Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships," he said. "They walked me through the process and gave me the necessary critique for my essays to be successful."

Lin is vice president of research and engagement at UNG, and Hightower is associate professor of history and assistant director of Nationally Competitive Scholarships.

Students interested in learning more about nationally competitive scholarships, including Freeman-ASIA, should contact for more information. Students interested in learning about study abroad opportunities through various programs may visit UNG's Center for Global Engagement.

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