With only three months until graduation, Klamath Union High School senior Sarah Menke is eager to jump into her next educational adventure: studying in Belgium.
As president of the school’s Key Club, a talented musician in both orchestra and chamber orchestra, a National Honor Society member and a gifted dancer, Sarah has successfully balanced her education with several leadership positions and extracurricular activities throughout her high school years.
Along with Key Club, Menke has annually volunteered at Camp Evergreen, both of which have prepared her for this trip of a lifetime.
While researching the many educational organizations that grant students the opportunity to study abroad, Sarah and her mom both decided that the Rotary Foundation was the best fit. The Rotary admissions process includes a lengthy personal application, and two individual interviews, for the Rotary members to decide which students are best qualified to participate in the study abroad opportunity. Rotary is one of the few organizations that offers a fifth-year option for students to participate in a study abroad opportunity, even after they graduate high school.
“I really wanted to learn a foreign language before I went to college, because my career goal is to become a foreign language teacher one day,” Menke said.
Menke, who was notified in December that she was chosen for the program, is elated.
“I’m really happy. It’s important to me to travel abroad to not only make connections, but to learn about other culture who are not quite the same as us,” she said.
Valeria Menke, success navigator at Klamath Union, and Sarah Menke’s mother also adds, “I’m excited for her. Travel and cultural exploration expand not only her world but also the world she comes back to, influencing all the programs and people she will continue to be involved with.”
As Sarah Menke graduates and leaves home to study for 10 months, Valeria Menke is sure her daughter will learn and grow vastly from this experience.
“The nice aspect about doing a fifth-year exchange is that it allows students to mature and gain experience so that when they do return, they are more committed to their educational endeavours, which in Sarah’s case is language education.”
Sarah Menke, who leaves for Belgium in August, looks forward to making friends and connections that will last her for years to come. Additionally, she is excited to strengthen her French speaking abilities, as the area she is going to in Belgium has a high French speaking population.