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Program in International Studies
Physical Address:
Admin. Bldg. #338
PHONE: (208) 885-6527
FAX: (208) 885-9464

Mailing Address:
Program in International Studies
c/o University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3177
Moscow, ID 83844-3177


Chantel Wilkes

Chantel Wilkes

Dig-ing Her Education at Home and Abroad

International studies student and intramural volleyball athlete experiences the world at and beyond the university

By Amanda Cairo

Whether it’s on the intramural court or in the classroom, Chantel Wilkes is a competitive force when it comes to her passions: international studies and volleyball. She’s in the first University of Idaho class to graduate with a minor in Asian studies, and she’s got a mean spike.

After three and a half years studying international studies, including a semester abroad in Japan, the Rathdrum native is looking for her next step after graduation, hopefully on the international scene. 

“I knew that I wanted to focus on international studies, and the University of Idaho was a great balance between academics, study abroad opportunities and finances,” says Wilkes, adding that U-Idaho was the only public university she applied to. “I’ve had so many opportunities presented to me as a student that have given me a great start.”

She has a few opportunities in the mix following graduation -- including a possible position as a foreign service officer, which she’s in the process of the several-step, nearly year-long application process. But it’s on the international stage where she plans to work.

As a student in the international studies program, Wilkes has had the opportunity to listen to and meet with several world-class presenters, but she’s also gone to Model United Nations through the program. In addition, she took up Asian studies as her minor, a newly added option for the class of 2012-2013.

“I felt that people in my department were so involved with me, knew me by name and knew what I was studying,” says Wilkes. “They really take the time to get to know you and give you opportunities to succeed.”
Wilkes chose to focus on Japanese for her minor and Japan for her study abroad experience. Japanese didn’t come without its own set of difficulties though, with three alphabets and learning characters instead of using letters. But it was more than the language that drew Wilkes in; she became enamored with Japanese culture and arts.

“As soon as I started taking classes, I knew this is it,” says Wilkes. “It’s such a different culture, it’s so fun and I fell in love with it.”

Chantel WilkesWhile in Japan, she took several culture classes, including Japanese martial arts and calligraphy offered by community members in Nagasaki in simplified Japanese. She also filled course requirements, played volleyball and stayed with a family to experience the culture better.

As a student on the Moscow campus, Wilkes made full use of her opportunities. She was an Associated Students of the University of Idaho senator, participated in the Honors College, was on the club volleyball team, as well as intramurals, and participated on the logger sports team. 

As she moves on to the next chapter, Wilkes feels she is prepared for the next step given the Vandal foundation she’s helped build.

“People at the University of Idaho really care about the students,” says Wilkes. “A majority of them care about your future, and you see a lot of teachers who love to teach.”