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RU's Kirk Scholars Travel to China

RADFORD – On Wednesday, May 13, 10 Radford University students left for a four-week study abroad opportunity to China as part of the Zylphia Shu-En Kirk Scholars Program offered through the RU International Education Center.

The students, who are traveling with Kirk Faculty Scholar and biology professor Jeremy Wojdak, include:

- Lisa Cotsimopoulos, a senior geology major from Portsmouth;
- Branden Farthing, a senior media studies major from Chatham;
- James Gearheart, a senior economics and finance major from Floyd;
- Anna Kolb, a junior math major from Berkeley Heights, N.J.;
- Kimberly Moore, a junior history major from Richmond;
- Katelyn Reilly, a senior communication sciences and disorders major from Roanoke;
- Brandon Robinson, a senior management major from Manassas;
- Hubertien Secreast, a senior history major from Radford;
- Mary Snelling, a junior nursing major from Midlothian; and
- Jasmine Steptoe, a senior criminal justice major from Bluefield.

The Kirk Scholars Program allows select RU students to study Mandarin Chinese for two semesters and travel to China during the months of May and June. While in China, the selected students continue their language studies and have the opportunity to visit sites such as the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The trip begins in Beijing where students stay at Beijing Language and Cultures University. The group will then travel to locations around China, including the Yunnan Province and Shanghai.

The Zylphia Shu-En Kirk Endowment was established in 1999 by RU graduate and Board of Visitors member R.J. Kirk. The program, named in honor of Kirk’s daughter, enables students to experience the Chinese culture firsthand at a minimal expense. The Kirk Scholarship covers most travel expenses, such as airfare, tuition at Chinese universities, lodging, some meals, tours and international student insurance.

The trip emphasizes a goal set forth in RU’s 7-17 strategic plan to develop strong relationships with international communities by promoting fluency in foreign languages and cross-cultural awareness among all students.

To learn more, visit the Kirk Scholars Program web site, or contact the RU International Education Center at (540) 831-6200 or

May 28, 2009
Contact: Mindy Buchanan-King (; 540-831-7764)

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