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Language program sends two more Sylvania students to Russia
Photos and Story by Deborah Crawford
Once again, two second-year Russian language students from the Sylvania Campus have been selected as participants of the Critical Language Scholarship Program for summer study in Ufa, Russia.
Colton Henrick and Maren Holmboe were awarded the scholarship, which is funded by the U.S. State Department and is considered the most prestigious language scholarship in the nation for Russian. Only 50 students are selected from across the nation from a pool of more than 700 applicants. The scholarship program covers almost all expenses including host family lodging, food, plane tickets, text books and visa costs.
“I was so surprised when I found out,” said Holmboe. “I figured I would try for it, but it’s a national competition with a lot of people who apply, so I didn’t expect to get it.”
In applying, Henrick and Holmboe had to write three essays that showed their enthusiasm for the Russian language and how they’ll use it in their careers. In addition, they had to conduct a half-hour phone interview entirely in Russian and perform an online writing and reading assessment to determine what level of Russian they will be placed in on the trip.
“We look at their experience in being situations where they needed to be adaptable,” said Kristine Shmakov, who is also a judge for the scholarship program, about the application process. “Are they able to go to Russia, study there intensively and deal with all the changes in culture and life they are going to be facing?”
A program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Critical Language Scholarship Program offers intensive summer language institutes overseas in 13 critical-need foreign languages. The Russian program consists of intensive language training with 20 hours per week of classes and a full slate of cultural events, home stays with a family and side trips to St. Petersburg and elsewhere.
Shmakov, the Sylvania Campus Russian instructor and department chair, has been an advocate and enthusiast about the program since Russian was re-introduced as a critical language six years ago.
“It’s such an amazing opportunity for students,” she said. “Students who plan to go on with the PSU Russian Flagship Program will need to complete a summer program, which can cost as much as $10,000, so an all-encompassing scholarship is an enormous gift.”
After completing their coursework at PCC and summer study, both Henrick and Holmboe are headed for that PSU Russian Flagship Program where the CIA, NSA and FBI all recruit from. There are only four flagship programs like this in the country and there are PCC students each year who join the elite list of students, thanks in large part to faculty like Shmakov, who push and encourage students to apply for any and all opportunities.