Tuition assistance helps staff expand language skills
By Jennifer Kepka
Some KU staff members are speaking in new tongues this semester, thanks
to tuition assistance.
Nineteen staff members used tuition assistance to take classes in a foreign
language this fall. Some are using the classes to expand upon current
knowledge, while others are taking languages for the first time to help
them in their work or research.
Scott Shackelford, an information specialist in biological sciences, used
tuition assistance to enroll in Ukrainian this semester. Shackelford,
who completed his master’s degree in Russian and East European studies
last December, is taking the class in part to keep up skills he learned
in previous studies.
“I think it’s important to maintain the languages acquired
during the program,” Shackelford says. “Also, it keeps me
involved with the REES and Slavic departments and gives me a chance to
assist visiting professors from Russia and Eastern Europe.”
Shackelford’s study also helps him in his work at the Strawberry
Hill Museum, which is dedicated to the history of German and Slavic settlers
in Kansas City, Kan.
“I feel a personal connection to this cause because my grandfather
grew up in the community,” Shackelford says. “I greatly appreciate
the funding KU has provided for the class.”
For Kim Taylor, this fall’s language studies also were a continuation
of previous studies. This is Taylor’s second year of studying Danish.
Taylor plans to travel to Greenland this summer to research the making
of traditional down blankets by Inuit women. The blankets are made in
a former Danish colony in Greenland where Taylor, now an assistant exhibit
designer for the Natural History Museum, will travel.
Kathryn Orth, a custodial specialist in Ekdahl Dining Commons, also is
using tuition assistance to make communication easier at work. Orth took
Mandarin Chinese because many of her co-workers at Mrs. E’s speak
“I thought that by learning Chinese, I would be able to help them
to understand English,” Orth says. “I try to speak Chinese
with a couple of them at work.”
Orth, who received a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from KU in
2001, will use the classes toward obtaining her master’s degree
in teaching English as a second language.
“Tuition assistance has helped me greatly,” she says. Orth
hopes to continue her studies in Chinese next semester. “This way
I would be able to help other co-workers, whose first language is not
English, to learn the English language.”