Riverside High School sophomore Makenzie Jones is getting ready for an all expenses paid six-week trip to Spain this summer after being named one of 15 Washington World Fellows Scholars in the state.
During her trip to Leon, Spain, Jones will be staying with a local family, touring historical sites and attending college classes at the University of Leon.
The prospect of living and learning in another culture has Jones excited. She has studied Spanish for three years, including a year in middle school, and decided years ago that she wanted to become a linguist.
“I just really wanted to do more with language,” she said. “It intrigues me, the culture, the history behind it.”
Jones said her uncle is Hispanic and would often speak Spanish around her, which helped kindle her interest in learning another language. She said she’s leaning toward a career with the government, but doesn’t want to be a translator.
Jones was nominated for the award by her Spanish teacher, Mary Ressa. She knew of the program for high school sophomores enrolled in Spanish classes and knew that Jones wanted to have a career as a linguist.
“I wrote that this is kind of her passion,” Ressa said. “This is what she wants to do.”
The scholar program doesn’t end with the trip to Spain. After the students return they will go through a college readiness program, including an eight-week class to prep for the SAT and ACT. They will also have the opportunity to participate in the Washington State Senate Page Program.
The summer before their senior year the scholars will go on a tour of several college campuses and get help with their college applications, resumes and applying for jobs and internships.
Jones was required to write three essays, participate in an interview and submit an introductory video during the application process. She wrote about why she would be a good World Fellow, why she wanted to go to college and what in her life has inspired her.
During the process Jones wrote about playing soccer since she was 4 years old and how she is is the center defender for the Spokane Sounders Premier Team and for the Riverside High School team.
She was sitting in the car with her dog Timber waiting for her mother one day when she decided to check her email and found the notification that she had been selected. “I cried,” she said. “I ran out of the car and called my mom.”
She said she was told there were about 200 applicants for the program. She was the only student selected from Eastern Washington. “They told me my application stood out,” she said.
Though she’s interested to tour colleges around the state, Jones said she already knows she’d like to attend Seattle University, which has a good language program and a study abroad program.
A lot of people have a bucket list of places and countries they would like to visit during their life, but Jones said her bucket list is the entire world. She said she wants to travel and write books about the people she meets and the things she learns and she said every country has new experiences and new things for her to learn.
“I want to go everywhere, honestly,” she said.
This trip will kick off a world tour for Jones, who hasn’t visited a foreign country before.
Ressa said she thinks the experience will be good for Jones. “She’s a solid student,” she said. “She works hard. I think it’s a great opportunity for kids to travel.”
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