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Administrative Team

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Dr. Jinai Sun

Program Director

Dr. Jianai Sun received her Ph.D. in Educational Administration at Pennsylvania State University. She has more than fifteen years of experience in Chinese language education and teacher training in the U.S. and abroad. Her research focuses on curriculum and instructional design, particularly through the use of authentic materials toward student motivation in Chinese language classrooms in the U.S.  She has served as program director for teacher and student STARTALK programs at North Central College since 2013.

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Dr. Monica Vuksanovich
Assessment Director

Dr. Monica Vuksanovich is a specialist in foreign language curriculum development. As a certified K-12 language teacher and current founder and consultant of NextLang-Language Learning for the 21st Century, Dr. Vuksanovich draws on her experience and works closely with key project personnel to ensure standards based learning objectives, diverse and culturally rich communicative activities, and authentic assessment. 

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 Mijia Ranquist

Culture Activity Coordinator 

Ms. Mijia Ranquist is an Illinois highly qualified Mandarin Chinese teacher. She received an M.B.A. from University of Illinois at Chicago in 2011, and also received her Master in Teaching in Secondary Education from National Louis University in 2016. She has served in NCC STARTALK programs since 2014, coordinating and leading instruction in cultural activities, which role she will reprise in the 2022-24 residential program.

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Erika Dismaya-Navaleza
Administrative assistant

Erika works with the Program Director to ensure timely and accurate processing of paperwork for all program staff and students, makes room reservation, submits orders for program supplies, track expenses; manages timely submission of the program expense reports; collects and tracks program applications; assembles and mails to students and parents, coordinates logistics of the residential camp.

Teaching & Tech Support Team

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Dr. Li Ye
Instructional Lead

Dr. Ye received her Ph.D. from University of Illinois, Chicago, in 2009. Since 2010 she has been a Chinese instructor and Core Team leader in the World Language Division (WL) at Adlai E. Stevenson High School (SHS) in Lincolnshire, IL, a US News “top three” public high schools in 2014. She has served as the Lead Teacher in NCC STARTALK programs since 2017. Dr. Ye will teach one of the two morning language classes and ensure a seamless instructional experience, overseeing the program curriculum assessments and training of all program teaching staff.

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Kelly Zhang
Language Instructor

Ms. Kelly Zhang will lead the second morning language class. Ms. Zhang received an M.A. in Applied Linguistics with a concentration in Second Language Acquisition from National Louis University. She has been teaching Chinese in Illinois for six years. She participated in the NCC STARTALK teacher program in 2019 and received excellent reviews from her colleagues. She is currently the lead teacher of Chinese at Morton East High School in Cicero, IL. Ms. Zhang teaches Introductory Chinese to AP Chinese and leads the design of the Chinese program curriculum in her school district.

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Qianhui Hub
Technology Lead

Dr. Hub received her Ph.D. from DePaul University and serves as an instructor of Chinese at North Central College. Qianhui has advanced knowledge and skills to use applicable technologies for advancing educational approaches. Her work and research focus on exploring the ways in which technology can be adopted in and beyond the classroom to increase student engagement and maximize their learning satisfaction.

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Yubi Lin
Technology Assistant

Ms. Yubi Lin has her bachelor's degree and master's degree in Teaching Chinese as Second Language. Since 2013 Ms. Lin has been working as a Mandarin Teacher in the United States. Currently, she is teaching Chinese at Bolingbrook High School and leads the design of the Chinese program in her school district. Ms. Lin has been enjoying her experience with STARTALK: She taught for the STARTALK student program in 2018 and she joined NCC STARTALK teacher program in 2019.

Tutoring & Counseling Team

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Xin Liu
Tutor Lead

Ms. Xin Liu has over ten years of Chinese teaching experience both in an immersion environment and in private tutoring, providing her with excellent communication skills with students, instructors, administrative staff, and parents. During the pre-program tutor session, she will tutor the students with well-prepared learning materials from the tutoring team. During the two weeks of the residential program, she will not only provide for the everyday needs of students outside the learning environment but also bridge the gap between studying and applying the students' learning experience to their daily lives during time away from the classroom.

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Jun Wu
Residential Lead

Ms. Jun Wu, a graduate of Huazhong Normal University, has over thirty years of experience in Chinese language education and teacher training. She is an experienced educator with a diverse educational background. Ms. Wu has a national teaching license in language and literature, educational administration, and counseling. She serves as a tutor in the pre-program and residential lead during the summer. During the two-week residential program, she will lead students to learn to organize their time wisely, improve their ability to take care of themselves and cooperate with others, and develop a sense of leadership in serving others.

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Dominika Szczepaniak

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Yan Li

Ms. Yan Li has her bachelor's degree in international business. She has previously worked as a Chinese tutor for North Central College from March 2015 to June 2016, organizing structured tutoring sessions. She also joined the 2015 NCC STARTALK Chinese program as a teaching assistant, preparing lunch conversation sheets and teaching handouts and leading field game activities during the program.  

Dominika Szczepaniak is a senior getting her bachelor's degree at North Central College for Chinese and Secondary Education. At North Central College Dominika has experience in tutoring beginner Chinese and helping ELL students in high schools across Illinois. Her main focus is to promote foreign language education in American public schools to create more globally aware students.

Content Experts

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Dr. Stuart Patterson

Dr. Patterson, the  Chairperson of the Shimer Great Books School at North Central College has been teaching for eighteen years in the Shimer School's specialized general education program focused on classic texts across world traditions through small, student-centered seminars. Lately, he has begun focusing his research and teaching on classical Chinese literature and aesthetics, particularly in the intersections between visual and literary arts.  Dr. Patterson will share how he teaches Chinese literary and visual culture through comparisons between classic works of Chinese and Euro-American culture.

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Dr. Kyle Anderson

Dr. Kyle Anderson will serve as the Digital Literacy Consultant for the project. He is the VP of Strategic Programming at Academic Programs International and the former Senior Director for the Office of Global Engagement at Clemson University. He also served as an Associate Professor and Chair of Asian and Chinese Studies at Center College. His work on global education has focused primarily on faculty and curriculum development and student global learning outcomes.

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Dr. Brian Hoffert

Dr. Brian Hoffert has extensive training and experience researching and teaching Asian and especially Chinese culture, including a Ph.D. from Harvard University for his dissertation "Chuang Tzu: The Evolution of a Daoist Classic." He is currently the Coordinator of the East Asian Studies and History of Ideas programs at North Central College. Dr. Hoffert will share his insights into engaging American students in the study of Chinese culture and texts, particularly through movies as well as a role-immersive activities he has developed through the "Reacting to the Past" methods pioneered at Barnard College.

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Dr. Yadong Ji

Dr. Yadong Ji will serve as media literacy consultant in this program. He is an Assistant Professor of communication at North Central College. His research covers intercultural communication and acculturation. He will provide talks on the topic of Chinese culture, Chinese communication styles, and social media in China.

Assistants & Ambassadors

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Thanh Huynh
Student Ambassador

Thanh Huynh will serve as a student ambassador of the program, focusing on promoting the STARTALK program to high school students. She is currently a senior at North Central College with double majors in East Asian Studies / Japanese and a Chinese Minor. Her focus and interest is East Asian Cultures and languages.

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Spencer Mulso
Student Ambassador

Spencer Mulso will serve as a student ambassador of the program, focusing on promoting the STARTALK program to high school students. He is currently a Sophomore at North Central College with a double major in Chinese and Secondary Education and a minor in ELL. 

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Laurel Murphy
Research Assistant

Laurel Murphy will serve as a research assistant throughout the program, focusing on researching and developing pre-program and post-program lesson materials that utilize digital media (podcasts, videos, social media) in a virtual yet culturally immersive manner. She has a bachelor’s degree in History and East Asian Studies with a concentration in Mandarin Chinese.

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Leslie Santos
Social Media Assistant

Leslie will serve as the social media assistant of the program, focusing on editing and uploading pictures and videos of daily activities on Facebook and other social media. Please follow us on Leslie is currently a Junior at North Central College with a major in International business and a minor in Chinese. 

Cultural Specialists

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Fei Yang
Chinese Painting Artist

Fei Yang, a teacher of Chinese Painting, graduated with BA degree in Chinese painting, from Institute of Fine Art of Minzu University of China. She has attended graduate study programs in fashion design from Institute of Fine Art of Tsinghua university and has also attended graduate study program in Chinese landscape painting from Research institute of Chinese painting. With one of her other notable accomplishments being her job of V.P. of Marketing  for Beijing Today along with having lots years of working experience in art curation, art gallery operation, art derivatives development and promotion, art economy and art education.

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Yang Chen
Kung Fu Master

Before settling in Chicago in 2007, Master Chen traveled throughout Europe for several years, performing with the Shaolin Temple performance team.  He is currently the main instructor in IL Shaolin Kungfu. He is always eager to share his experience and coach his students to their best.

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Menghua Guan
Guzheng Artist

Menghua Guan, Guzheng performer and tutor, Master’s degree in music from Nanjing Normal University, founder of Menghua Guan Guzheng Studio and Menghua Guan Guzheng Ensemble. She has published eight articles and more than ten of her students have won prizes in prestigious Chinese traditional instruments competitions. She was honored Excellent Music Teacher by Jiangsu Education Department in 2008. After she came to America in 2012, she was invited to give lectures and concerts in Roosevelt University, College of Dupage, Naperville North Central College etc. Menghua Guan was also invited to Millennium Park Guzheng Concerto performance by Chicago Jazz Philharmonic in Jun, 2018.

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June Jiang

If “a picture is worth a thousand words,” what is a video worth? Stories sell. June believes the key to effective storytelling lies in how you find a unique vantage point into a subject; and how you maximize visual impact through creativity. A pro photographer and video producer, June has been documenting NCC’s Startalks program since its debut in 2013. She produced videos that tell the complete story of Startalk each summer, as well as creating stunning portraits and memorable candid photos. June holds 2 MS degrees from UIC and is finishing a writing certificate at Northwestern University. 



Phone: 630-637-5263



North Central College

30 North Brainard Street,

Naperville, IL 60540

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