UA Students Earn Language Scholarships from State Department

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Two University of Alabama Honors College students have been selected to receive Critical Languages Scholarships from the U.S. State Department.

Jason Arterburn will study Chinese in China.
Jason Arterburn will study Chinese in China.

Emily Simon, a junior majoring in international studies and Spanish, and Jason Arterburn, a sophomore studying mathematics and interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in East Asia, will receive scholarships for fully-funded intensive foreign language study for 10 weeks abroad this summer.

Simon, a Gross Pointe, Mich. native, will be studying Arabic in Oman, and Arterburn, of Madison, will be studying Chinese in China.

“I am humbled,” Arterburn said. “It is both an honor and a tremendous privilege. I am grateful for the opportunity to advance my language skills — the summer classes are equivalent to an academic year of language study — and to contextualize my studies with a deeper cultural understanding.”

According to the State Department, the CLS Program ( is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Arabic, Persian and Russian are among the 13 languages the scholarships support.

In 2012, more than 5,200 applications were submitted nationwide and approximately 630 scholarships were awarded. UA’s selected scholarship recipients are thus in the top 12 percent of all applicants nationwide.

Emily Simon will study Arabic in Oman.
Emily Simon will study Arabic in Oman.

Past Honors College recipients have studied in India, Turkey, Oman, Russia and China, said Fran Oneal, director of the International Honors Program in the UA Honors College. Oneal said UA has many qualified candidates for the scholarships each year, partly due to the Critical Languages Center in B.B. Comer Hall on the UA campus.

“Critical Languages Scholarships are highly sought-after by students at all universities in the U.S. The students complete a lengthy application, write a statement of purpose and obtain recommendations,” Oneal added. “For those selected, all expenses are paid for the entire 10-week language program overseas, including airfare, accommodations, meals, tuition and a stipend.”

Both Simon and Arterburn have traveled abroad. Simon, who has studied Arabic for a year and Spanish for seven, spent the fall 2012 semester studying in Cádiz, Spain and summer 2012 in Belgium. Arterburn traveled to Europe and Australia while he was in high school and went to Costa Rica for the past two summers with a group from the Honors College in March. Arterburn is already fluent in Spanish and has a “rudimentary” knowledge of French.

Both are unsure of their future career plans, though Arterburn is hopeful that mastering Chinese and researching Chinese economic policy will help shape his career plans.

Said Simon of her career plans: “I’m very drawn toward education, as well as human rights, and I would ultimately like to combine these two interests.”


David Miller, media relations, 205/348-0825,


Fran Oneal, 205/348-5554,