CWU News

Standout CWU students awarded select study abroad scholarships

(L. to r.) Mirella Dado-Fox and RaeLani Mathias, Freeman-ASIA Scholarship winnersTwo CWU students have been awarded highly competitive scholarships that will allow them to study in East or Southeast Asia. Mirella Dado-Fox and RaeLani Mathias both received Freeman-ASIA Scholarships, while Mathias also was presented with a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship.

“These scholarships receive thousands of applications each cycle, and students compete nationally for them,” said Steve Cook, assistant director for CWU Study Abroad and Exchange Programs. “Both are significant awards and, aside from the financial benefits, tap students into extensive alumni networks.

“That Mirella and RaeLani were successful speaks to not only the quality of their chosen study abroad programs but also to their dedication and abilities to communicate who they are and how study abroad and—by extension—these scholarships serve their goals, both present and future,” he continued.

Dado-Fox, a junior from Centralia, is majoring in both Japanese and Asian Studies. During the upcoming fall quarter, she will study at Kyoto (Japan) University of Foreign Studies, which “perfectly aligns with my academic goals,” Dado Fox noted.

“Studying abroad will provide me with firsthand experience in the Japanese language and give me cultural insight that I would never be able to obtain from a textbook [alone],” she said.

Her career goal is to become a Japanese language and East Asian studies professor. After she earns her bachelor’s degree from CWU, she wants to participate in the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program, which allows college graduates—mostly native English speakers—to become assistant language teachers in Japan. Dado-Fox plans to do that while completing her master’s degree coursework online.

Mathias, a senior from Walla Walla, is also a dual major in Japanese and Instructional Foundations, as well as pursuing minors in both Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language. All of next year, she will study at Takushoku University, near Tokyo.

“When I was in 8th grade, I discovered Japanese animation,” she explained. “My interest focused my curiosity specifically through the beautiful sound of the language. I wanted more: I wanted to learn about the people and the culture.”

She also aspires to become involved in the JET Program and, ultimately, develop mastery in other Asian languages and cultures.

“I want to be able to speak to many people and help those who are unable to fully express themselves in a non-native language,” she noted.

The Freeman-ASIA program supports U.S. undergraduates, with demonstrated financial need, who desire to study in East or Southeast Asia. The program’s goal is to increase the number of U.S. citizens and permanent residents with first-hand exposure to Asia and understanding of its people and cultures.

After completing their program, award recipients share their experiences on their home campuses or communities to encourage study abroad by their peers. Since 2001, Freeman-ASIA has made study abroad in East and Southeast Asia possible for more than 4,600 undergraduates from more than 600 institutions nationwide.

The U.S. Department of State-funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a similar grant program in that it enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad, to gain skills critical to United States national security and economic prosperity.

It, too, was established in 2001 and has developed a successful record of accomplishment in supporting students typically underrepresented in education abroad, such as first-generation and ethnic minority college students, those with disabilities, students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, hailing from minority-serving institutions, community colleges, or from U.S. states with lower study-abroad participation.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,

Photo caption: (L. to r.) Mirella Dado-Fox and RaeLani Mathias