Jessica Gumucio '16 and Mohammed (Jake) El Sarhan '18 received Critical Language Scholarships (CLS) from the U.S. Department of State to study critical needs languages this summer. Gumucio will study Russian in Vladimir, Russia and El Sarhan will study Arabic in Madaba, Jordan.
A native of Liberty, N.C., Gumucio is a math major with a minor in Russian Studies. She is president of the Organization of Latino American Students (OLAS), vice president of communications for Alternative Breaks, a member of Turner Eating House and a member of the Davidson Dance Ensemble. She studied in Moscow this spring as a participant in the Math in Moscow program.
"I'm incredibly excited about living with a host family," Gumucio said. "There is no better way to practice my language skills and soak up the culture than living like a local."
El Sarhan is from Richmond, Va. He is a Bonner scholar, participates in the QuestBridge scholarship program, and plans to pursue an economics major.
"I'm most looking forward to prolonged travel abroad and encountering a whole new mindset and culture," he said. "I'm also excited about the program's cultural excursions to experience and learn the history of Jordan."
Gumucio and El Sarhan are among 550 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students receiving a scholarship from the CLS Program in 2015. Each participant spends 7-10 weeks in an intensive language institute in one of 13 countries, studying Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, or Urdu.
The CLS program is part of an effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. It provides fully funded, group-based language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences.
Finalists for the 2015 CLS program hail from 49 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. They represent more than 200 institutions of higher education from across the country, including public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, minority serving institutions, and community colleges.