Six WKU students awarded State Department scholarships

Mackenzie Mathews

This year has seen a record number of WKU students awarded with the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship.

Funded by the State Department, the scholarship will allow six WKU students to spend seven to ten weeks studying, what the government considers to be, languages that are critical to foreign relations yet underrepresented in universities.

“I think that’s pretty incredible, and I think it really shows that WKU is really committed on the international focus,” Bowling Green senior Sarah Schrader said. “It shows that our students are really taking that mission to heart and going out and finding ways to internationalize their college experience.”

Schrader received the award to study Korean this summer. The scholarship will take her to a native school for two months in order to learn a year’s worth of language studies.

With particular languages, students do not apply knowing where they will go or for how long.

“They select you based on your level and when you get out of classes and when you start classes in the fall,” Louisville junior Elizabeth Gribbins said. “There are a lot of unknowns at this point in time, but I’m sure I’ll enjoy any place,” she said.

Gribbins will be studying Arabic in either Morocco, Jordan or Oman. She plans to use the language to either pursue a career with the State Department or a non-profit organization.

“I think this will give me an idea of what I want to do,” she said.

In order to receive the scholarship, students must show future plans of study and applying the language to their careers.

“You have to show them your long-term commitment and that their investing in you over the summer is going to turn into something that you can use in the future and that it will be helpful to society,” Schrader said.

The scholarship will cover tuition, housing and round-trip airfare for programs available in the offered countries.

Applicants must show a strong academic record and the ability to handle the intensive coursework. Some languages require prior knowledge, while others welcome beginners, but students are expected to gain a level of fluency, such as beginner to intermediate, during their studies.

“Even if you don’t know anything about the languages, it’s a good way to get started,” Schrader said. “Having an intensive experience like this will give me a good foundation for learning it [Korean].”