Posted 8:48 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024

Eleanna Meehan has earned the Global Seal of Biliteracy with Functional Fluency in English and Russian.

UWL student earns Global Seal of Biliteracy through UW Collaborative Language Program

After taking advantage of the UW Collaborative Language Program, Eleanna Meehan is now proficient in Russian – and she has the Seal to prove it. 

Meehan, a senior studying international business and accounting with a certificate in Russian studies, has earned the Global Seal of Biliteracy with Functional Fluency in English and Russian. Throughout her college career, Meehan took six semesters of Russian language. 

“I studied French all four years of high school and, through that experience, realized that I had an aptitude and passion for learning foreign languages,” Meehan says.  

Meehan was born in Russia and adopted at 11 months old. Her ties to Russia made it easy for her to decide that her next learned language would be Russian. During her senior year of high school, she started studying Russian with a tutor before continuing her studies at UWL. 

“It has taken a lot of dedication and hard work, as Russian is not an easy language to learn,” Meehan says. “However, I’ve enjoyed every second of it! Russia has such an incredible history and rich culture that many people are not aware of, and it has been a fascinating experience to study it and become closer to this part of my ancestry.”

The proficiency test assesses listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.

Russian is part of the UW Collaborative Language Program (CLP). As part of the CLP curriculum, students can take a nationally accredited language proficiency test, which assesses listening, speaking, reading and writing.  

Meehan achieved at least Intermediate-Mid level in all skills, allowing her to receive the Global Seal of Biliteracy, a micro-credential that gives multilingual graduates a way to highlight their language skills for potential employers.  

“It demonstrates to employers not only language skills, but also delivers confidence that our students bring the valuable soft skills linked to language learners, such as communicating and listening well, being a good critical thinker and problem solver, and being able to make connections across complex ideas,” says Natalia Roberts, professor of Russian language and culture at UWL. “It goes without saying that language learners bring strong work ethics to their employers.” 

Meehan has already been offered a full-time position before graduating. 

“I have accepted a position as an audit associate with Baker Tilly after graduation,” Meehan says. “I am excited to be part of a firm with offices in 146 countries and many opportunities to work abroad, including in Russian-speaking countries!” 

The Seal demonstrates the commitment of the Department of Global Cultures and Languages to accomplish its mission of developing global citizens who can communicate effectively, with cultural sensitivity and awareness, in more than one language. 

“In a global society where intercultural communication has become increasingly important, the Global Seal distinguishes our graduates as globally competent individuals,” Roberts says. “By learning languages for several years, our students develop empathy toward people of different cultures and backgrounds and gain new perspective on the world and others with different values and points of view. These emotional skills will serve our students beyond the professional realm, as the world around us, even on a local level, becomes increasingly diverse.” 

For students interested in learning a new language or improving their fluency, Meehan suggests finding engaging ways to learn and practice the language, like re-watching favorite television shows or movies in the desired language.  

“The biggest piece of advice I can give is that it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it,” Meehan says. “It takes time and dedication to learn a new language, and it is something you have to practice every day.” 

In addition to Russian, the CLP offers German, French, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic, which all have access to earning the Seal. The program, founded in 1998, is dedicated to improving access to language courses for all learners across UW campuses, with particular emphasis on languages considered critical to Wisconsin and the U.S. economy and national security. 

“If you stick with it, the benefits are endless,” Meehan says. “I truly believe learning a foreign language is one of the most beneficial things you can do for both your personal development and your career development. It allows you to develop and appreciate new perspectives and insights into the world we live in, connect with new people, and make you a very valuable asset in any career you pursue!” 

Congratulations to all UWL students who earned the Global Seal of Biliteracy (French, German or Russian): Seairra Mortellaro, Madeline Erickson, Richard Cayasso, Gretchen Heller, Itzel Cayetano, Milana Adiran, Timothy Harrold, Olesya Kazina, Kit Kirsch, Isabela Pericak; and through the Collaborative Language Program: Samuel Zajkowski (UW-Stevens Point).