Southwest Tennessee Community College

July 3, 2006

For more information, contact: Kimberly Kreider (901) 333-4023

Southwest Student wins Scholarship to Study in ASIA
Written by Brenda J. Rayner

Southwest student, Kristina Thomas, received a Freeman Awards for Study in Asia (Freeman-ASIA) Academic Scholarship in the amount of $7,000 for the 2006-07 academic year to study abroad in Asia. The award, presented by the Freeman Foundation and the Institute of International Education (IIE), is designed to support American undergraduates with demonstrated financial need who are planning to study overseas in East or Southeast Asia. The primary goal of Freeman-ASIA*, is to increase the number of American undergraduate students to study in East and Southeast Asia.

Thomas, a history major at Southwest, is particularly interested Chinese history and culture. Her employment at the Peabody Chinese Museum fed her appetite for Asian culture until her big break came. “I’ve always been fascinated by China and Chinese Culture,” said Thomas. “I’ve always wanted to go abroad and study in China. It’s taken me awhile to get there. I knew it would happen one day.”

The scholarship acquisition was a very competitive process. There were 700 applicants nationwide, including those from prestigious schools such as Harvard and Yale, out of which 140 applicants were chosen. The application process included a service proposal requiring recipients upon their return, to share their experiences with their home campuses for the purpose of encouraging study in Asia by others, and to spread greater understanding of Asian peoples and cultures within their specific communities. Thomas elected to create a diversity club for kids. “What I’d like to do is have college students and high school students to help with that club. I want to take the kids on tours to different places like the Chinese and Jewish museums to show them different cultures,” remarked Thomas, who said her inspiration for the kids club came from the Southwest Honors Services Program sponsored by Dr. Clarence Christian.

Thomas attributes the administration and faculty at Southwest for her success in the acquisition of the Freeman-ASIA scholarship. She delayed enrolling in college directly after high school. When conditions were right for college, friends encouraged her to go to Southwest because of the quality of education it offers as well as the transfer scholarships available to four year institutions.

Karen Chu of the U.S. Programs Division of Freeman-ASIA said Thomas is the only student from Memphis ever to receive this award. The only other recipient from the state of Tennessee is a Middle Tennessee State student. Thomas’ career goal is to become a museum curator.