Scholars seeking to honor veterans with multilingual messages

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A group of first-year students in the Penn State Schreyer Honors College is showing support to military veterans — in multiple languages.

As part of a project that originated during the college’s annual first-year student orientation, known as SHO TIME, Scholars Dominika Brice, Rachel Bruning, Hannah Kumar, Katherine Maher, Nicole Morrison, Abigail Slate and Anastasia Wagner wrote letters to veterans thanking them for their service. Brice, whose first language is Polish, suggested she could write her letter in that language, and other members of the group decided they wanted to do the same.

“It was just kind of a fun, spur-of the moment idea,” Bruning said.

During a State College Borough Council meeting in October, four of those students read their letters in four different languages — Brice in Polish, Slate in German, Bruning in French, and Wagner in English — then translated those messages into English.

On hand for those readings were Capt. John Laird and Sgt. Augustin Munoz of the State College Recruiting Company, who have met with the group multiple times and discussed ways for the students to get involved with veterans in the area. 

Laird also helped the group arrange an event on Nov. 13 in Atherton Hall, where current and former Army officers discussed ethical dilemmas with Schreyer Scholars.

“We thought it was a great opportunity to recognize some of our soldiers and also some of the people that served for us to set up what we’re doing now,” Laird said.

The students are trying to collect as many letters written in as many languages as possible throughout the month of November. In honor of the Schreyer Honors College’s 20th anniversary, they are hoping to collect at least 100 letters in 20 different languages. They’ve placed collection boxes with blank notecards in Atherton and Simmons halls and hope to deliver the letters before winter break.

“It’s more of a connection and helping Schreyer students understand this is what these people do,” Wagner said. “This is what happens when they’re out of service. I think our message is just education.”

Brice’s uncle, Kevin Brice, is a deputy district engineer for project management for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Portland, Oregon, district, and regularly attends events for veterans in the area. To her and her classmates, the semester-long project has been a show of gratitude.

“We’re all connected in some way,” Bruning said. “We all have a connection to people who have served and a lot of what we talked about in the letters, which started the whole thing, is the gratitude on behalf of the entire Schreyer community, as well as the entire community of Penn State, for what veterans have done and what they continue to do even after they’re not in active duty anymore.”

About the Schreyer Honors College

The Schreyer Honors College, regarded as one of the nation’s top programs of its kind, promotes achieving academic excellence with integrity, building a global perspective, and creating opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. Schreyer Honors Scholars, including Gateway Scholars admitted after their first or second year of enrollment, are a diverse and motivated group of more than 2,000 students at University Park and 20 Commonwealth campuses. The college strives to educate men and women who will have an important and ethical influence in the world, to improve educational practice, and to be recognized as a leading force in honors education nationwide.

Last Updated November 30, 2017