Jessica Brumley considers herself a small-town person, but in the past four years she has used her passion for language and the written word to create a global education experience at WKU.
“I have always loved English and literature but was never sure I could make a career out of it until I realized teaching was the best path for me,” said Brumley, who was recognized Saturday afternoon as the Ogden Foundation Scholar at WKU’s 178th Commencement.
Brumley was initially interested in the sciences when she first arrived at WKU from Anderson County in 2011, but then she learned about the Chinese Flagship Program.
“I knew that I wanted an international education and I thought the Chinese Flagship would provide that,” she said.
Has it ever.
Brumley, a Literature and English for Secondary Education major, Honors College graduate and a four-year student in Chinese Flagship Program, has completed study abroad trips to China, Taiwan and Cuba. And she returned to WKU earlier this week from Baoding, China, where she has spent the final month of the fall semester completing her student teaching.
As her Honors undergraduate thesis, “The Cultural Classroom Instructional Handbook,” Brumley completed an English/Chinese retranslation of Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” The thesis combined all of her academic interests – a literary critique of the novel for her literature major, the retranslation project for her Chinese Flagship studies and the creation of lesson plans for Chinese/English teachers for her education major.
The project was the culmination of her intensive language learning through the Chinese Flagship Program, the trips to Mandarin-speaking countries and a trip to Cuba, where she visited Hemingway’s estate as well as Cojimar, the fishing village of his classic novel.
“My dedication to helping others acquire language and appreciate language is something that I have always possessed,” Brumley wrote in her award application essay, “but through my experiences at Western Kentucky University, I was able to hone my skills as a global ambassador of the English language and a literary culture unique to the English-speaking world.”
In addition to her international experiences, Brumley has presented her thesis research at the 2014 Kentucky Honors Roundtable and the 2015 Sigma Tau Delta English Honors Society International Language Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“To think that I’ve had all these experiences but also these experiences on an international level is mind blowing,” she said. “It’s purely through hard work and being very dedicated to those opportunities that I’ve been able to do that. I’m so indebted to WKU for the experience and amazing opportunities I’ve had while I’ve been here.”
The Ogden Scholar award is presented to one graduating baccalaureate degree senior who has demonstrated exceptional academic achievement and outstanding university and civic engagement. Brumley also was recognized as a Scholar of the Potter College of Arts & Letters.
Brumley’s numerous awards include a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship, WKU Presidential Scholarship, Sigma Tau Delta Study Abroad Scholarship, FUSE grant and Ministry of Education Huayu Mandarin Language Enrichment Scholarship. She also has tutored and mentored elementary and high school students as well as WKU students and has been a member of several campus organizations and clubs.
Brumley, the daughter of John and Juliah Brumley of Lawrenceburg, spent the first part of the semester doing her student teaching at Nelson County High School. Even though she enjoys teaching high school, Brumley is looking forward to postgraduate experiences. “I’d really like to be a professor,” she said.
More: Brumley profiled in View from the Hill segment
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