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Graduate awarded Fulbright to conduct research in China

Rachel Reetzke

WKU graduate Rachel Reetzke will study in China on a Fulbright grant.

WKU graduate Rachel Reetzke of Franklin has been awarded a Fulbright Grant that will allow her to travel to China and conduct research.

Reetzke participated in the Chinese Flagship program and is a graduate of the Honors College at WKU with a degree in communication disorders. She is a past recipient of a Critical Language Scholarship to Beijing in summer 2010 and is currently studying at Cambridge University as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.

“Rachel has consistently demonstrated that with hard work and dedication our Flagship Scholars can shine on the national and international stage,” Melinda Edgerton, Coordinator of the WKU Chinese Flagship, said. “We are proud to have Rachel represent our program.”

During her time in China, Reetzke will be working with multiple organizations including Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou Cana School for children with autism and the YangAi Parent Club. She will study developmental pediatrics and advanced level Chinese while conducting autism research. Reetzke has also been accepted to a summer intensive language program in Harbin, China, that will begin in early July and last eight weeks.

Reetzke’s research plans include validating the Chinese Autism Diagnostic Scale (CADS). This standardized test is designed specifically for the Chinese population with consideration of their unique cultural and linguistic background. The scale, once validated, will be used to diagnose autism. Currently there is no autism diagnostic scale based on the Chinese language and culture, making the CADS a vital tool for future diagnosis.

“It has been a pleasure watching Rachel develop into an outstanding scholar. I was privileged to be supervisor for her first field research project in China during the summer of 2010,” said Dr. Dana Burr Bradley, Director of the Center for Gerontology.  “Since then I have witnessed firsthand what happens when you encourage a talented student to think outside the box, and then help them find the resources they need to succeed. Rachel is an inspiration to us all.”

The Fulbright program was created in 1946 to increase the mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. Since its inception, more than 294,000 individuals have been afforded the opportunity to study, teach, conduct research, exchange ideas and search for solutions to shared international concerns.

Reetzke attributes her success to assistance and support from the WKU community, including the Office of Scholar Development and the Honors College. She said that she is grateful to Dr. Marty Boman and the Kelly Autism Program, Dr. Bradley and the College of Health and Human Services, Dr. Cecile Garmon and the Leadership Studies Program, Alex Downing and the College Heights Foundations, Dr. Liping Chen and the Chinese Flagship Program, and the Rotary Foundation.

“This is another fabulous success for Rachel after receiving the Critical Language Scholarship last summer and the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship before that,” Dr. Chen said. “I am extremely happy for her.”

About the Office of Scholar Development: The Office of Scholar Development is committed to helping students on all WKU campuses and in all majors and degree programs develop the vision, experience and skills to be independent, engaged scholars. OSD welcomes the opportunity to work with students interested applying Fulbright grants or other similar opportunities. Contact: Dr. Audra Jennings, (270) 745-5043.

About the Chinese Flagship: The WKU Chinese Flagship, one of nine Chinese Flagships in the United States, is sponsored by a federal grant through the National Security Education Program.  The Language Flagship is a national initiative to create global citizens by bringing students to the professional, or superior, level of proficiency in any discipline.  Students in the WKU Chinese Language Flagship program take intensive Chinese language courses each semester throughout their undergraduate career and participate in multiple funded overseas opportunities. Contact: Melinda Edgerton, (270) 745-5043.

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