Students receive national scholarships to study critical languages

FSU's 2018 Critical Language Scholarship winners. Top row (from left): Akice Agwa, William Crawford. Bottom row (from left): Matthew Hebron, Tatum Shannon.
FSU's 2018 Critical Language Scholarship winners. Top row (from left): Akice Agwa, William Crawford. Bottom row (from left): Matthew Hebron, Tatum Shannon.

Four Florida State University students will study abroad in an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program thanks to the prestigious Critical Language Scholarship, offered through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The scholarships are an effort by the federal government to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.

“We’re so proud of our students’ commitment to immerse themselves in these under-engaged communities,” said Joshua Stanek, associate director of the Office of National Fellowships. “FSU students are setting themselves up to be the liaisons between the United States and the world.”

Critical Language Scholars spend eight to 10 weeks abroad studying one of 14 critical languages. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. It plays an important role in preparing students for the 21st century’s globalized workforce and increasing national competitiveness.

This year’s FSU Critical Language Scholarship recipients are:

Akice Agwa, 20, a sophomore majoring in international affairs from Jacksonville, will study Arabic in Ibri, Oman. After graduation, she plans to do humanitarian work with the dream of working on sustainable practices in organizations that help refugees worldwide.

“When I looked for opportunities to engage in learning languages through immersion, I wanted an experience that would challenge me and provide an environment conducive to building a foundation that leads to fluency,” Agwa said. “I am so grateful for this scholarship. Not only will I learn a language, but I will engage and learn from Omani people and the greater region through a hands-on experience. I hope to broaden my intercultural competency and prepare myself to be a better servant leader.”

William Crawford, 27, a senior majoring in economics and Middle Eastern studies from Tallahassee, will study Arabic in Amman, Jordan. Following graduation, he hopes to pursue a master’s degree in applied economics at FSU.

“I am humbled and extremely thankful to have received this scholarship,” Crawford said. “I hope to use this experience to improve my everyday communication skills.”

Matthew Hebron, 20, a junior majoring in political science from Parkland, will study Russian in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, at the American University of Central Asia. Hebron aspires to be a foreign service officer using the linguistics skills he has honed during his time in Kyrgyzstan.

“I want to thank FSU and the Office of National Fellowships in particular for this great opportunity,” Hebron said. “I look forward to improving my language skills and having a valuable cultural experience.”

Tatum Shannon, 20, a junior from Jacksonville majoring in international affairs and Chinese, will study at the Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China, this summer. In the future, she hopes to work at the U.S. Department of State on diplomatic and foreign policy issues in East Asia.

“I am looking forward to living with a Chinese host family and experiencing local life and culture with them,” Shannon said. “I am very interested in the specific fields of public and cultural diplomacy, and I hope to use my Chinese language skills in these fields.”

Cornelia Wielgus, 19, a senior majoring in international affairs and Russian from Palm Coast, was selected as an alternate for the scholarship.

For more information on national scholarships, contact the Office of National Fellowships or the Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards.