College junior Ariel Koren took a major step forward in her dream of ensuring that every student has access to global education last week.
Koren was awarded the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a monetary award for current college students planning to pursue public service or government-based graduate and professional degrees. There are around 60 awardees among all national applicants.
As a part of her Truman application, Koren wrote public policy legislation mandating that foreign language and cultural education be taught in schools, and in particular that it be a part of Head Start, a federal program for low-income students.
“I am really interested in foreign language education deficiency [and] how it widens the socioeconomic achievement gap,” Koren said.
Koren’s interest in public policy and more particularly her interest in foreign language education was prompted by her sister’s experience in school. Her sister is a special needs student who never had access to foreign language education — something Koren sees as inequitable.
She is also the founder and director of Active Cross-Cultural Training In Our Neighborhoods, a community service organization that she started in her hometown and then brought with her to Philadelphia. The purpose of the club is to combat foreign language deficiency in the United States by mobilizing volunteers to teach more foreign language and culture concepts in community schools.
Koren’s experience as founder and director of ACTION gave her insight into the importance of foreign language and diversity education. “Studying how enriching and edifying language education is, especially for at-risk students, and seeing how much of an impact it has made on the lives of the hundreds of students ACTION has reached, inspired my policy proposal,” she said.
Koren had a long list of those who helped her along the way to the Truman Scholarship.
Her mentors included Ware College House Dean Utsav Schurmans, who originally prompted her to go after the scholarship, as well as President of the Penn Club of Beijing Loretta Evans, Graduate School of Education professor John Fantuzzo and Jinping Wang, a visiting professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations.“I feel super lucky to have such supportive people mentoring me,” Koren said.
“I’m so excited to be a part of this amazing community [of Truman Scholars],” Koren said.
Koren grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., and attended Allen D. Nease High School. She is currently pursuing a major in east asian languages and civilizations in the College.
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