6 UA Students Earn Critical Language Scholarships

Six University of Alabama students have received the Critical Language Scholarship to study overseas this summer.

The Critical Language Scholarship, or CLS program, is part of a U.S. State Department effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

A headshot of Aparna Bhooshanan

Aparna Bhooshanan, a computer science major from Madison, will study Mandarin in Taiwan. In addition to being a Witt University Fellow and Randall Research Scholar, Bhooshanan is also the president of UA’s chapter of the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. She plans to pursue research in natural language processing, a field that unites linguistics with machine learning. Bhooshanan plans to use her knowledge of Mandarin to contribute to the machine translation field and develop methods to combat digital misinformation in different countries.

A headshot of Hari Gunda

Hari Gunda, a computer science and mathematics, foreign languages, and literature major from Montgomery, received an award to study Indonesian in Malang, Indonesia. Gunda is part of UA’s International German Student Exchange Program. Hari will pursue graduate study to research computational linguistics and multilingual natural language processing.

A headshot of Belle Hester

Belle Hester, a creative media major from Pace, Florida, will study Japanese in Okayama, Japan. Hester is a member of the McCollough Program and Honors College. A Japanese tutor for students at UA, Belle is interested in becoming a Japanese-to-English translator or localizer in the entertainment industry.

A headshot of Addison Miller

Addison Miller, an international educational policy major through New College from Birmingham, will study Mandarin in Taiwan. Miller is a member of the Blount Scholars Program and Witt Fellows Program. Following graduation, Addison aims to pursue another longer study abroad in a Chinese speaking area before attaining a master’s degree in international educational policy with the goal of working in language policy advocacy.

A headshot of William Muller

William Muller, a history and political science major from Roswell, Georgia, will study Russian through the CLS Spark virtual program. Muller is part of the International Relations Club, Alabama International Justice Mission and Prelaw Student Association. William plans to pursue a career in international humanitarian rights law to advocate on behalf of those whose plight may go unnoticed and/or undefended.

A headshot of Bennett Ogle

Bennett Ogle, an economics and mathematics major from Farragut, Tennessee, will study Azerbaijani in Baku, Azerbaijan. Ogle’s achievements include being named a White House Historical Association Next-Gen Leader and receiving a Certification of Appreciation from Ambassador John Carwile of the U.S. Embassy in Latvia in 2022. Bennett hopes to be an economic officer within the foreign service specializing in areas with significant minority-majority interactions.

The CLS program provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to 10 weeks overseas studying one of 13 critical languages, including Arabic, Azerbaijani, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu.

The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

The UA Office of External Scholarships and Fellowships assists students in the pursuit of national and international awards including the Mitchell, Hollings, Goldwater, Rhodes and Boren, among others. Students interested in applying for awards that require an institutional endorsement can learn more on the External Scholarships and Fellowships website.