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U. of I. undergraduates awarded scholarships for language study abroad

5/24/2010 | Jeff Unger, junger@illinois.edu

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. –University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign undergraduates recently received nationally competitive awards for overseas foreign language study. Emelyn Baker, of Winnebago, Ill, will study Chinese this summer through the U.S. State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship. Seniors Brett Cox, of Rose Hill, Kan., and Ryan Rogowski, of Naperville, Ill., were offered Boren Undergraduate Scholarships through the National Security Education Program to fund a year of study abroad. Another Illinois candidate, senior Joseph Helbing, of Berwyn, Ill., is a Boren Scholarship alternate.

“The University of Illinois is proud of these top students for earning national recognition for their pursuit of foreign language studies abroad,” said David Schug, a co-director of the campus’s National and International Scholarships Program. Laura Hastings, who also co-directs the office, adds, “Many of our students study foreign languages and international area studies while at Illinois, and we are particularly proud that a few have received these prestigious awards.”

The U.S. Department of State began the merit-based Critical Language Scholarship for Intensive Summer Institutes in 2006 to increase opportunities for American students to study critical-need languages overseas. The scholarships provide full funding for 575 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students (from among 5,300 applications) to study Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indonesian, Persian, Russian, Indic (Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu), or Turkic (Turkish and Azerbaijani) languages.

The recipients will spend seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes and cultural immersion activities in one of 15 nations. Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their professional careers.

  • Baker will utilize the Critical Language Scholarship to study Chinese this summer at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. Having just completed her sophomore year majoring in graphic design, she eventually plans to pursue a career working with international design firms.

The merit-based Boren scholarships are awarded to U.S. citizens for study in Asia, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America or the Middle East. Only 15 percent of applicants nationally received an award. Scholarship winners are provided up to $20,000 toward their studies, depending on the cost of the proposal. Scholarship recipients enter into an agreement that generally requires them after graduation to seek a paid position with the federal government in the area of national security for a minimum of a year. They also receive priority-hiring status from agencies such as the departments of State, Defense, or Homeland Security and branches of the intelligence community.

  • Cox, a transfer student from Parkland Community College, will use the Boren Scholarship to continue his study of Farsi and related area studies for 12 weeks this summer and 16 weeks during the fall semester in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. While furthering his education as a political science major, Cox interned in the office of Illinois state Sen. Michael Frerichs. Cox is preparing for a career in the foreign service.

  • Rogowski is pursuing a dual degree in electrical engineering and Spanish. He previously spent a semester studying abroad in Bilbao, Spain and now looks to gain Mandarin skills through participating in an intensive Chinese language program at Beijing University for the upcoming year.

Rogowski has a strong interest in digital signal processing and looks forward to a career as a computer forensics engineer.

He is working with a Chinese-speaking friend to create a program that converts Chinese language images taken on a mobile phone to English.

More information about Critical Language Scholarships and Boren Scholarships is available by contacting topscholars@illinois.edu.

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More information is available by contacting topscholars@illinois.edu.

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