Her sense of adventure takes her to Beijing, China, next school year to learn the language fluently — and a full scholarship makes it possible.
Phillips, a junior in the Indiana University Kokomo School of Nursing, received a $10,000 Study in China Scholarship, from the Chinese Scholarship Council and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). The scholarship covers her tuition, campus housing, health insurance, and travel and conference fees.
"I'm now able to realize a dream I never would have been able to on my own," Phillips said. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime."
She begins classes in Mandarin in September at the Beijing Language and Culture University. Her travel experience with IU Kokomo gave her the courage to consider a yearlong program, she said.
"I learned so much from IU Kokomo's programs in South Korea, that it made me want to learn about another country," Phillips, from Kokomo, said. "I've always had an interest in foreign culture in general, and going to South Korea with the School of Nursing made me want to step it up and go overseas for a full school year."
Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke congratulated Phillips on the scholarship.
"We are proud of Harlee for securing such a competitive scholarship," she said. "One of our goals is to increase the number of IU Kokomo students who travel overseas, both on semester long experiences or short term opportunities. It is important that we graduate students who are prepared to live and work in our global world."
Dean Linda Wallace called Phillips "the perfect candidate for this opportunity," because of her previous experiences.
"After meeting Korean exchange students on our campus, Harlee traveled to Korea by herself to see her new friends in their home country," Wallace said. "Since then, she has been a wonderful hostess when we have guests from Korea. She has a similar passion for learning about China, and she is very knowledgeable about Chinese and Korean cultures. She is well on her way to being a global citizen."
Phillips is excited to experience China as a student, rather than as a tourist, and to learn a new language.
"I really like learning about culture, and I can't wait to experience China's history, from ancient to modern," she said. "A lot of people don't know anything about China except what they hear on TV or read. I want to get to see it in person and learn about it from that perspective, rather than just what I hear from home."
She will live in student housing at the Beijing Language and Cultural University, which provides programs for students from all over the world. In addition to her classes, she can participate in travel programs to see more of the country on weekends.
The experience will make her a better nurse, because she's learning cultural sensitivity.
"My patients won't all be like me, and share my culture and beliefs," she said. "Your culture shapes what you want from your medical care providers. I can be aware of that, and ask questions, to give the best care possible."
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.