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Two Connecticut College students are gearing up for a summer of intensive language study. Julia Graham ’22 and Jordan Westlake ’22 have each received a Critical Language Scholarship from the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, for 10 weeks of study in an intensive language program.
Critical Language Scholarships cover the language program costs, including travel, room and board. Students must demonstrate a commitment to and strong love for a language in this highly selective program. Past recipients from Conn have gone on to land prestigious scholarships, including a U.S. Fulbright Student Program grant and a Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship, and have been admitted to top graduate schools, including Georgetown, Duke and Harvard University.
Graham, a Slavic studies and psychology double major and environmental studies minor from Ann Arbor, Michigan, will study Russian Russian at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She first became interested in the language after hearing her high school art teachers speak Russian, and she has been studying it ever since.
“I'm glad that my initial interest in the Russian language has led me to learn about and visit other Slavic countries, such as Ukraine and Bulgaria. Going forward, I am pursuing Russian as a personal interest, and while it will likely not be part of my immediate career path, language is something that I will always be passionate about,” Graham said.
On campus, Graham is a manager at one of Conn’s coffee shops, Coffee Closet; a tutor in Russian, writing and psychology; a sexual violence prevention and advocacy peer educator and a sustainability fellow. After graduation, she will work at Epic Systems in Wisconsin.
Graham says she’s looking forward to the intensive daily lessons, and the conversations partners program, through which she will be connected to a Russian-speaking peer.
“I'm really excited for a chance to increase my fluency,” she said.
Westlake, a history and global Islamic studies double major and Arabic studies minor from Somerville, Massachusetts, will study Arabic at the Arab American Language Institute in Tangier, Morocco.
Westlake, a scholar in Conn’s Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts, says she began studying Arabic to challenge herself and explore the connection between the language and the religion of Islam. Now, she is looking forward to fully immersing herself in the language.
“I am most looking forward to putting my Arabic to real life use and seeing myself improve,” she said. “Also, I am very excited to get to know Morocco, which has such diverse linguistic, religious and cultural traditions.”
On campus, Westlake is the treasurer of the Connecticut College Figure Skating Club, and a member of the Ultimate Frisbee team and the ConnChords a cappella group. After graduation, she hopes to work abroad using her Arabic language skills before applying to graduate school. Eventually, Westlake is considering a career in academia.