Four students win CLS grants to study critically needed languages

Four University of Colorado Boulder students have been awarded U.S. Department of State Critical Languages Scholarships (CLS) for this summer.

The highly competitive CLS program supports intensive study in 13 languages deemed critically important by the Department of State, seven of which are taught in CU-Boulder’s Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations -- Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Persian and Urdu. The other languages are Russian, which is taught in CU-Boulder’s Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Indonesian, Punjabi and Turkish.

The recipients, including both undergraduate and graduate students, and their destination countries are: Austin Cowley, Russia; Paige Leuschner, China; Erica McFarlane, China; and Roya Mirhossaini, Turkey.

McFarlane is a junior double-majoring in finance and accounting with a minor in Chinese. She began to study Chinese during high school and developed an affinity for the language and culture that will be beneficial in her career, she said.

“I feel like knowing a foreign language is critical for the business field that I’m in,” said McFarlane. “Knowing Chinese will be especially helpful since the U.S. and China do business together.”

She hopes to join an international company that works with China or has a branch in China.

About 550 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students from across the nation received CLS grants for 2014 from the U.S. Department of State. The participants spend seven to 10 weeks abroad and are provided group-based intensive language instruction and cultural enrichment experiences.

CLS alumni are expected to continue their language studies and apply their language skills in their future professional careers.

CU-Boulder’s Office of International Education (OIE) has added and expanded offerings since 2012 including programs in China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Singapore, Nepal, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

“Our students have a strong interest in diving deep into the cultures they visit,” said Larry Bell, executive director of OIE. “Knowing the language well is one of the most important tools for that to be a positive experience. They know a significant international experience enhances job opportunities after graduation.”

For more information about the CLS scholarship visit

(Photo taken in Hiroshima, Japan by Nick LaFarge, courtesy OIE/International Education Photo Contest)