Katherine Patterson

Katherine Patterson 

As the daughter of a disabled military veteran, it took sheer perseverance to earn enough funding to attend college, but Katherine was able to receive the Florida Bright Futures scholarship, leading her to FGCU. She has independently studied Chinese and traveled to China last year in order to participate in an immersion program. Katherine is a biology major working Phil Allman, an honors student, and aspiring research doctor. 

While Katherine is unable to attend her Critical Language Scholarship Program in China this year, she is determined to reapply now more than ever on the basis that diseases do not have borders and she feels it is imperative to be able to communicate with the larger global medical community to stem pandemics like COVID-19 in the future.  

Katherine Patterson in China

How did your mentor(s) encourage and foster your research and academic trajectory?

I’ve been very fortunate to meet and to get to know Dr. Allman and Matt Ryan for the last couple of years. Dr. Allman has broadened my perception of the field of Biology by exposing me, and many other students over the years, to the survey of the Gopher Tortoise population in the area. Under his mentorship, I learned what it means to be part of a high-impact research project, to work with other people from a wide set of interests and backgrounds different from mine, and learn how to conduct field research, and I’m grateful for his generosity. Matt Ryan has been absolutely vital in the pursuit of international medicine, specifically in China. During my freshman year, he encouraged me to apply for a couple of fellowships before I met Dr. Terumi. He’s also helped me to identify study abroad programs that matched up with my interest, as well give me resources to connect with the Chinese-American community in southwest-Florida.


What does the OCF mean to you?

The Office of Competitive Fellowships has opened up many opportunities for me, both professionally and personally. Throughout the last year, I’ve been able to meet several like-minded peers from a wide range of disciplines through the OCF community. Additionally, Dr. Terumi has taught me how to craft a compelling essay to “roll the dice” for opportunities where the odds are low for me to receive them. Even though the process of applying for a fellowship is demanding, I believe that the effort is worth it because I’ve been able to accomplish more than I thought I could.


What is the Critical Language Scholarship?

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. Students spend eight to ten weeks abroad studying one of 15 critical languages. As a program of the U.S. Department of State, it is part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS plays an important role in preparing students for the 21st century's globalized workforce and increasing national competitiveness. With an acceptance rate of less than 10%, the Critical Language Scholarship is one of the most competitive scholarships in the U.S. and the most prestigious language program for U.S. citizens. 



A subject of Katherine's research, a southwest Florida Gopher Tortoise  

Gopher Tortoise