After a competitive application process, three University of Mississippi students have been selected for the prestigious U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship program this summer.
Susannah Slimp of Meridian, Abigail Szabo of Brandon and Steven Mockler of Ocean Springs have been awarded the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study critical needs languages this summer in China.
The CLS program is a part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Participants in the fully-funded program will spend seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes receiving intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences.
This, however, will not be the first trip abroad for the UM students.
“Last summer, I studied abroad in Qingdao, and while I was there I took a few trips to Beijing,” said Slimp, a sophomore in chemical engineering. Slimp will study this summer at Zhejiang University of Technology in Hangzhou.
“After the trip of a lifetime in Seoul, South Korea, I knew that learning a critical language was key to an international lifestyle,” said Szabo, who also was a participant the U.S. Department of State’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth in high school. “After a whole summer of intensive Chinese under my belt, I decided to stick with it. Now, two years later, I have come so far in such a short time that there is no turning back.”
“Being in China while learning Chinese is completely different than an Ole Miss setting, for in China, the world is my classroom,” Szabo said. “Intensive language programs abroad offer an invaluable opportunity for building language skills.”
Mockler, who is a second-time recipient of the CLS, has traveled to China three times.
“Every street has at least a thousand years of history, and, from this American’s perspective, Chinese society is filled with so many contradictions that I wanted to dedicate myself to understanding the language and culture so I could build more trust and understanding between our two nations,” he said.
Mockler, a rising senior majoring in Chinese and international studies, will be studying in Guangzhou at Sun-Yatsen University.
“The Department of Modern Languages is very proud of the students who this year have received a Critical Language Scholarship to study in China,” said Donald Dyer, chair of the department. “Ms. Slimp, Ms. Szabo and Mr. Mockler have all demonstrated their linguistic prowess over the years and are very deserving of this award, which puts them in an elite category of students to receive this honor.”
CLS participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period, and later apply their critical language skills to their future professional careers.
After graduation, Slimp plans to attend graduate school in engineering and hopes to work in the petroleum industry, while Szabo plans to go to graduate school, studying Mandarin and environmental science. Mockler plans to attend graduate school and hopes to work in government on Chinese issues related to education, cultural exchange and diplomacy.