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Twelve UMD Students Awarded the Critical Language Scholarship

July 31, 2018

College Park, Maryland - Twelve University of Maryland students were awarded the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study abroad during summer 2018. Two of these awardees declined their CLS awards in favor of other opportunities. The complete list of 2018 UMD CLS awardees is below. Maryland was one of only eight universities nationwide to have 10 or more CLS participants this year.

The CLS Program is part of the U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security. The program awards approximately 550 scholarships every year.

CLS provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to ten weeks overseas studying one of 14 critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, or Urdu. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

Since 2006, CLS has awarded scholarships to more than 5,700 American students to learn critical languages around the world. CLS scholars are among the more than 50,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported annually by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. These exchange programs build respect and positive relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The CLS program is administered by American Councils for International Education.


2018 University of Maryland CLS Recipients

Shabnam Ahmed

Shabnam Ahmed graduated in 2017 with a major in Global Public Health and Development from the Individual Studies Program in the Office of Undergraduate Studies. She is an alumna of the Federal Fellows Program, as well as Beyond the Classroom, College Park Scholars International Studies program, and the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House. Ms. Ahmed declined the award to study Urdu in favor of another opportunity.

Rachel BaldwinRachel Baldwin graduated this past May with a double major in International Business and Supply Chain Management from the Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is an alumna of the College Park Scholars Justice and Legal Thought program and the Global Fellows Program. She is studying Chinese in Xi’an, China.

Agnieszka BieganowskaAgnieszka Bieganowska is a rising junior in the College of Arts and Humanities double majoring in Russian Language and Literature and Germanic Studies. She is also an alumna of the College Park Scholars International Studies program. She is studying Russian in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Brenna ColeBrenna Cole earned master’s degrees in both Business Administration and Public Policy from the Robert H. Smith School of Business and the School of Public Policy this past May. She received the Critical Language Scholarship to study Korean in Gwangju, South Korea.

Dominic Dix graduated this past May from the College of Arts and Humanities with majors in Chinese and the International Relations concentration in Government and Politics. He is an alumnus of the College Park Scholars International Studies program and the Global Fellows Program. He is studying Chinese in Changchun, China.

Matthew DuMatthew Du graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in Japanese and a certificate in East Asian Studies from the College of Arts and Humanities, and a second bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from the A. James Clark School of Engineering. Mr. Du is an alumnus of the Honor College’s Design Cultures and Creativity program. He is studying Japanese in Hikone, Japan.

Sarina Haryanto Sarina Haryanto earned her bachelor’s degree this May in Supply Chain Management from the Robert H. Smith School of Business, and also completed a minor in Sustainability Studies. She is an alumna of the College Park Scholars Business, Society, and the Economy program, as well as the Quest Honors Program. Ms. Haryanto is studying Indonesian in Malang, Indonesia.

Kyle Kastler Kyle Kastler received his master’s degree in International Education Policy from the College of Education this May. He is currently studying Urdu in Lucknow, India.

Siri Neerchal is a rising sophomore in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, majoring in Mathematics and minoring in Music Performance. She is also a member of the Honors Humanities program of the Honors College. She has declined the award to study Urdu in favor of another opportunity.

Nisha SeebachanNisha Seebachan is a rising senior double majoring in Chinese and Communication in the College of Arts and Humanities. She is studying Chinese in Tainan, Taiwan.

Benjamin SonnenbergBenjamin Sonnenberg graduated in May with a major in History from the College of Arts and Humanities and minors in Middle East Studies and Global Terrorism. He is an alumnus of the University Honors program. Mr. Sonnenberg is studying Azerbaijani in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Nicholas ViggianoNicholas Viggiano is a rising junior in the College of Arts and Humanities, majoring in Russian Language and Literature and Environmental Science and Policy. He is a member of the University Honors program. Mr. Viggiano is studying Russian in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.


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