GVSU students awarded State Department Critical Language Scholarship awards

Angel Bista
Angel Bista
Image Credit: Courtesy Photo
Eric Brink
Eric Brink
Image Credit: Courtesy Photo

Two Grand Valley State University students spent summer 2019 studying critical languages abroad after being awarded the competitive U.S. Department of State's Critical Language Scholarship (CLS).

Angel Bista, an international relations major from Grand Haven, Michigan, studied Japanese in Okayama, Japan.

Eric Brink, a Spanish major from Alpena, Michigan, studied Chinese in Changchun, China.

Richard Vegh, an English major, was awarded the scholarship but declined in order to participate in another program.

The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain skills in languages that are less-commonly taught in U.S. schools but are essential for America’s engagement with the world, contributing to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

Bista and Brink were two of only 550 competitively selected American students representing 233 colleges and universities across the U.S. to receive a CLS award. Each CLS scholar spent eight to 10 weeks in one of 26 locations studying Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu.

The program provides funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS scholars serve as citizen ambassadors, representing the diversity of the U.S. abroad and building lasting relationships with people in their host countries. Alumni of the program go on to continue their language study and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

Applications for the 2020 Summer CLS programs are currently being accepted, with an application deadline of November 19, 2019. 

Students who will graduate in December 2019 or after who are interested in applying for a CLS award should contact Elizabeth Harrington Lambert, GVSU's CLS Program Adviser and director of the Office of Fellowships, at fellowships@gvsu.edu.

The Frederik Meijer Office of Fellowships supports interested Grand Valley undergraduate and graduate students and alumni in pursuing major national and international award opportunities, providing information and direct support throughout the competitive application processes. 

For more information, visit gvsu.edu/fellowships.