Undergraduate students awarded Critical Language Scholarships

Madison Arenaz, Josh Donaldson, Ilay Kielmanowicz, Emily Swain and Liliana Perez

May 21, 2024
Contact: Courtney Perrett, 573-882-6217, cperrett@missouri.edu

Five University of Missouri students were recently awarded the highly coveted Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), an overseas language and cultural immersion program available to students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. Additionally, one alternate was named.

Granted by the U.S. Department of State, this prestigious award provides students the opportunity to spend up to 10 weeks abroad, where they will study one of 14 critical languages.

“I’m so excited for our awardees because the CLS and CLS Spark Programs present an excellent opportunity for them to broaden their language skills outside the classroom,” said Lauren Pike, fellowships coordinator for Mizzou’s Office of Global and National Fellowships. “Their commitment to studying not just their target language, but also its culture, is inspiring. It takes fearlessness to open yourself up to the unknowns that await during intensive language study, and I can’t wait to hear what our awardees soak in.”

As part of a wider government initiative aimed at expanding the number of Americans mastering foreign languages that are foundational to national security and economic prosperity, the program plays a key role in preparing students for the 21st century’s globalized and increasingly competitive workforce.

This year’s Critical Language Scholarship recipients include:
Madison Arenaz
  • Freshman studying journalism and political science from Piggott, Arkansas.
  • Language: Russian

“I'm most excited about practicing Russian language in a more immersive environment. It's one thing to study a language, but to be able to live alongside native speakers is a really rare experience, and I'm so grateful for it.”

Joshua Donaldson
  • Sophomore studying biological engineering and pursuing the Honors Certificate from St. Joseph, Missouri.
  • Language: Swahili

“I am incredibly grateful for the Critical Language Scholarship and all those who guided me toward it, including the Office of Global and National Fellowships and my family.  I am excited to be pushed outside of my comfort zone in an unknown, yet supportive environment. Exploring this beautiful culture and learning from people’s stories will enable me to better contribute to our community here at Mizzou, and I cannot wait to grow as a listener, a learner, and a community member. ”

Ilay Kielmanowicz
  • Junior studying history and psychological sciences and pursuing the Honors Certificate from St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Language: Spark Arabic (offered by the CLS Spark program that allows students to study languages virtually.)

“I am excited to finally be able to study Arabic. The last time I studied it was for two weeks in fifth grade, so having the structure of CLS would allow me to master the language and the culture that comes with it.”

Emily Swain
  • Junior studying international marketing and East Asian studies from O’Fallon, Missouri.
  • Language: Korean

“I'm honored to be a recipient of the Critical Language Scholarship. Last summer, I studied at Seoul National University, and I am excited to go back to Korea and study in Gwangju. After graduation, I want to move to Korea and work in fashion marketing. I love the Korean language and I am thrilled to study with this program and fully immerse myself in the culture.”

Alternate: Liliana Perez
  • Freshman studying political science and Spanish from Chicago, Illinois.
  • Language: Spark Arabic

“Having the opportunity to be a finalist for the Critical Language Scholarship is very exciting because I plan on being an immigration lawyer one day, which is a career where knowing more languages would be beneficial in being able to help more people navigate the immigration system.”

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