English major Haylee Parrish is no stranger to hard work. She works summers at Walmart and as a consultant at MU’s Writing Center during the academic year. Never in her wildest dreams, though, did she think her ambition and determination would take her all the way to Sapporo, Japan

Haylee is studying in Sapporo until July with help from two prestigious national grants, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and the Freeman ASIA award. The Gilman is a grant program for undergraduate students that enables them to develop intercultural connections while broadening their horizons. Haylee won the Freeman-ASIA days after she was awarded the Gilman. Freeman-ASIA provides U.S. students with the opportunity to study abroad in either East Asia or Southeast Asia. “I did not expect to win one of them,” Haylee said, attributing much of her success to the encouragement of Thelma Rohrer, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities and director of MU’s study abroad program.  “I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Haylee, who will be a senior this fall, is passionate about language. “My ultimate dream job would be writing young adult fantasy,” said Haylee. “I really love that genre.” In addition to her English major, Haylee is minoring in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and hopes to teach abroad after graduation.

Haylee is grateful to Manchester for her opportunities and says she felt connected to the campus vibe from the first time she visited campus as a seventh-grader. “I also live close enough to commute,” said Haylee, “which helps me to hold down expenses and debt.”

While in Sapporo, Haylee is attending Hokusei Gakuen University and living with a host family in which both parents are school teachers.  “Living with a family is giving me a more immersive experience,” Haylee said, “by speaking Japanese and learning about their culture, customs and traditions.” Haylee’s schedule of 15 semester hours at Hokusei includes 12 hours of studying the Japanese language. She also hopes to complete her required practicum in TESOL.

Haylee is fascinated with the Japanese culture and language, which she started teaching herself in high school. Not only is this Haylee’s first time abroad, she’s only been outside of Indiana a handful of times. “My only air travel had been with my family when I was in the sixth grade” on a trip to Florida, said Haylee. “My mother was worried,” Haylee said shortly before her departure for Japan, “but she knew that this is really what I wanted to do.”

By Shelby Harrell ’18