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Three undergraduates earn Critical Language Scholarships

April 10, 2018
Jacqueline Tran, John Cole, and Joy NicoloasJacqueline Tran ’18, John Cole ’19, and Joy Nicholas ’19 are this year’s University of Rochester recipients of the US State Department's Critical Language Scholarships. (University of Rochester photos / J. Adam Fenster)

Three University students have been offered US Department of State Critical Language Scholarships and will take part in language and cultural immersion programs overseas this summer.

The program launched in 2006 and includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. It’s part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.

John Cole ’19 will study Mandarin Chinese in Xi’an, China; Joy Nicholas ’19 will study Swahili in Arusha, Tanzania; and Jacqueline Tran ’18 will study Arabic in Amman, Jordan.

Cole is a dual major in economics and international relations from Oberlin, Ohio, and has been studying Chinese since he was 7. This fall, he’ll study at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai.

“To receive this scholarship is in many ways a product of over a decade of hard work and passion,” he says. “I’m elated.”

Nicholas majors in health, behavior, and society. She’s the first Rochester student selected for the Swahili program and received a full tuition merit scholarship from the University as part of the Posse Foundation, for qualified urban students from the Washington, D.C., area. Her ultimate goal is to conduct global health research “that promotes capacity building as well as improved health conditions for women and children in underserved communities.

She has family in Tanzania, where Swahili is among the principal languages spoken, and hopes the scholarship will help her “prepare for a career in more community-based research that one day will allow me to help the rural communities my mom and her family came from.”

Tran, an anthropology major from Brooklyn and a transfer student, says the scholarship is a “foundational tool” for her to enhance her Arabic skills.

“I’m interested in a career in international development, focusing on the Middle East and North Africa region,” she says. “This scholarship means more to me than words can express.”

Cole, Nicholas, and Tran bring the total number of Critical Language Scholarship participants from the University to 23, with at least one chosen every year except 2007.


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