Two Hastings College students have been selected to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) program. Betsy Miller, a sophomore from Arlington, Kansas, will study in Turkey, while Kinser Rafert, a senior from Sutton, Nebraska, will study Arabic in Morocco.
Through this program students are offered intensive in-person language training and are immersed into the culture of the language they are studying. This is designed specifically to promote students’ rapid language growth.
A program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the CLS program is part of a movement to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages, many of which are critical to national security and economic prosperity. CLS scholars gain language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.
This selective program awards fully funded scholarships to 500 American students, representing 245 U.S. colleges and universities.
Students are also exposed to various career and academic advancement opportunities during and after their summer abroad. In addition, participants who successfully complete the program are granted non-competitive eligibility in government work for up to three years after program completion — something both Miller and Rafert are interested in.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to learn Turkish in an immersive setting with other highly motivated students from across the U.S. So not only will the CLS aid me in my immediate language goals and interests, but it opens doors to graduate school and careers in diplomacy,” Miller said.
Miller, who is double majoring in political science and history & philosophy, has been doing a virtual internship with the U.S. Embassy in Moscow throughout this school year, and took a directed study course with visiting professor Dr. Soran Tarkhani on Eastern Europe, one of his specialties. She has also taken courses with Dr. Corey Stutte, the political science program’s internationalist.
Rafert is a history major and political science minor who spent a semester last year at the American University in Cairo. After graduation in May, he will attend the University of Virginia in pursuit of a master’s degree in South Asian and Middle Eastern languages and cultures.
“This opportunity will provide me with a higher level of fluency in Arabic,” he said, “which I need to reach my goal of attaining a Ph.D. in medieval Arabic history.”