University of Rochester undergraduates Aurora Dopp '13 and Zachary Palomo '13 have been named 2011 Critical Language Scholars (CLS). Dopp and Palomo are among the 575 recipients selected from a national pool of more than 5,200 candidates. Rising senior Matthew Lavigueur was also selected to receive a scholarship, but declined to pursue a summer internship opportunity. Since its inception in 2006, nine Rochester students have participated in the CLS program.
Critical Language Scholarships are a sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and provide American undergraduate and graduate students with fully-funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences abroad. Students who receive funding study languages deemed strategically important, including Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, or Urdu.
"The CLS has quickly become a prestigious, highly competitive program, and I am very pleased by our students' success this year and in recent years," said Belinda Redden, director of Fellowships at the University. "Two of the six previous CLS participants from Rochester subsequently won Fulbright Scholarships to Indonesia and Kazakhstan."
Dopp, of Kenmore, N.Y., is a regular dean's list student working toward a bachelor of arts degree in international relations. At Rochester, she has studied both French and Arabic. Her Critical Language Scholarship will take her to Fes, Morocco, where she will spend ten weeks studying advanced Arabic.
Dopp is a member of Rochester's pep band, where she plays the flute and also participates in the Student Association for the Development of Arab Cultural Awareness, the College Democrats and the Undergraduate Political Science and International Relations Council.
Palomo, of Hondo, Texas, is pursuing a bachelor of arts degree with dual majors in international relations and Russian. As a Critical Language Scholar, he will travel to Ufa, Russia to continue his study of the Russian language. Palomo, who made the dean's list this past semester, also was awarded a 2011-12 Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which will help fund a full-year study abroad experience to St. Petersburg, Russia through the Council on International Educational Exchange.
An active member of Rochester's campus, Palomo served as a D'lion during the 2010-2011 academic year, helping to promote school spirit and a sense of community throughout the Susan B. Anthony residence halls.
The U.S. Department of State launched the Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Institutes in 2006 to increase opportunities for American students to study critical-need languages overseas. The program, which is administered by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) and American Councils for International Education, is part of a wider effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical languages. It promotes mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries and Redden also said that the CLS program can play an important career-building role for participants.
"Students attracted to the CLS program have a serious interest in gaining a more globalized perspective on the world through substantive, immersive experiences," She explained. "Whatever their ultimate career, CLS students usually envision engaging in work that directly promotes intercultural understanding and cooperation."