5 Huskers receive Critical Language Scholarships

· 4 min read

5 Huskers receive Critical Language Scholarships


Five University of Nebraska–Lincoln students have been awarded Critical Language Scholarships to study a language abroad this summer.

The students are Alexander Christensen, Liam McChristian, Jared Noetzel, Gregory Tracey and Cooper Wright.

The Critical Language Scholarship program, run by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying critical foreign languages. Scholars gain language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

The program provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to 10 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. Scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

Alexander Christensen

Christensen, a global studies major and graduate of O’Fallon Township High School in O’Fallon, Illinois, will travel to Lucknow, India, to study Urdu. By learning the language, he will work toward his goal of joining the U.S. intelligence community. While the idea of a critical language program was daunting at first, Christensen said he wanted to connect with other cultures and build relationships while studying abroad.

Liam McChristian

McChristian, a history and Russian major with a minor in national security studies, applied for the program because he wants to learn Russian through in-country immersion. The University Honors Program member and Lincoln High School graduate said increasing his Russian language skills will allow him to read primary documents for Soviet history research in their original language. He said he hopes proficiency in the language will make him more competitive as he pursues a career in Army intelligence.

Jared Noetzel

Noetzel, an Honors Program member and graduate of Omaha Burke High School, will return to South Korea in June for his award. After studying there the summer after his freshman year, he became interested in the similarities and differences between mental-health perceptions and practices in the United States and South Korea. As a psychology major, he wants to conduct cross-cultural psychology research between the countries. Upon his return, Noetzel plans to apply for a Fulbright award and pursue a doctoral degree in psychology.

Gregory Tracey

Tracey, an Honors Program member and graduate of Omaha Westside High School, will travel to Tbilisi, Georgia, to study Russian. An economics and global studies major with minors in Russian, mathematics and national security studies, Tracey has previously studied abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia. He said the Critical Language Scholarship program will allow him to continue building his Russian language skills for a career in international business. When he returns to the U.S., Tracey will start his senior year at Nebraska. He plans to pursue a graduate degree.

Cooper Wright

Wright, who hails from Windsor, Colorado, and is a graduate of Fossil Ridge High School, will spend his summer at the Noor Majan Arabic Training Institute in Ibri, Oman. A political science and global studies major with minors in Arabic, human rights and humanitarian affairs, national security studies and Spanish, Wright is no stranger to experiences abroad. He has studied in Granada, Spain, and Meknès, Morocco. He has also held an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay. For Wright, pursuing the Critical Language Scholarship was a way to further develop the language skills he will need as he works toward a career in the Foreign Service.

Learn more about the Critical Language Scholarship program.

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