Two West Virginia University Honors College students will have an intensive cultural experience this summer as recipients of the highly competitive U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship.
Keanan Allen will study Mandarin in Taiwan while Taima Ross travels to Morocco to study Arabic.
Allen of Wayne, Nebraska, has been studying Chinese since he was in middle school. He is a junior majoring in biology and Chinese in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. This is not his first trip to the region. He traveled to Nanjing and Shanghai with the Chinese language department.
“I applied for this scholarship because Chinese is one of my passions,” Allen said. “I enjoy the challenge of learning this language and the more I’ve learned, the more motivated I am to become fluent.”
His goal is to become a medical health professional serving those in need, especially areas of the world with fewer resources. Learning Chinese will enable him to collaborate with other medical personnel in the world to advance the profession and provide translation services for patients. He has also volunteered with the WVU Medical and Dental Brigades to gain both international and medical experience.
Ross of Shepherdstown, is a senior majoring in French and Spanish with a minor in Arabic Studies in the Department of World Languages, Literature and Linguistics. In the two years she has been studying Arabic, she has grown to love the language.
“Rabat is such a beautiful and ancient city,” Ross said. “This opportunity to live in Morocco will enable me to gain more insight on the social and cultural practices of the Arab world.”
Her proficiency in foreign languages will serve her well in her goal of becoming a consular fellow in the U.S. State Department and the United Nations Population Fund. She has also studied in France and Spain through WVU’s Education Abroad opportunities.
The Critical Language Scholarship is 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. Thirty-two WVU students have been chosen for this honor.
“By taking advantage of the global opportunities here at WVU, these two students have been well-prepared for this scholarship,” said David Hauser, teaching assistant professor in political science and the Critical Language Scholarship faculty advisor, “I’m pleased to see the State Department recognize their desire to make the world a better place while serving our country.”
Students who are interested in this scholarship or other nationally competitive awards can make an appointment to talk to the staff in the ASPIRE office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.