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UH Students Receive Nationally Competitive Critical Language Scholarships

The Office of Undergraduate Research in the Honors College is pleased to announce that this summer three University of Houston students will study overseas in an intensive language and cultural immersion program as recipients of the prestigious Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). Through this scholarship, students spend 10-12 weeks studying one of 14 “critical languages” considered to be in high demand for language professionals. This year’s recipients will be studying in Oman, China, and South Korea.

  • Saman Essa is a sophomore in the Honors College studying psychology and Middle Eastern studies, with a minor in Medicine & Society. She has been involved in the UH Bonner Leaders Program, where she has worked on developing a program for teaching English to resettled refugees. She has also been a participant in the Model Arab League, traveling to Cairo last fall for the international conference. After graduation, Saman aspires to attend graduate school for psychology and to continue working with refugees. She hopes that by studying Arabic abroad, she will solidify her Arabic language skills and be able to communicate effectively with resettled Arabic-speaking refugees.
  • Andrew Neilson is a graduate student in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages specializing in teaching Chinese as a second language. He hopes to teach Mandarin at the high school level, thereby inspiring students to learn about different languages and cultures in order to become effective world citizens and build cultural bridges. In addition to Chinese, Andrew enjoys studying the Middle East as well as the Arabic and Persian languages. While on CLS during the summer of 2018, he will be immersed in all of these cultures as he pursues his Chinese studies in the ancient Silk
    Road city of Xi’an.
  • Victoria Rivera is a first-year student pursuing a major in computer science. She has always been fascinated with languages and speaks English, Spanish and some Romanian. Victoria aims to combine her interest in languages and computer science to become a computational linguist. She hopes that learning Korean will open new doors in this field, specifically in national security. Victoria intends to apply for the Boren Awards next fall and improve her multilingual abilities.

The Critical Language Scholarship is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains.

CLS is part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity. CLS plays an important role in preparing students for the 21st century's globalized workforce and increasing national competitiveness.

UH students are excellent candidates for national fellowships, such as the Critical Language Scholarship. Please advise students to contact Dr. Ben Rayder in the Office of Undergraduate Research for more information about opportunities.