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UNL Announce

Four complete 'Critical Language' program

The four UNL students to earn Critical Language Scholarships are (clockwise from top left) Skylar Falter, Christopher Reznicek, Michael Schuster and Zachary Smith.
The four UNL students to earn Critical Language Scholarships are (clockwise from top left) Skylar Falter, Christopher Reznicek, Michael Schuster and Zachary Smith.

Four UNL students won highly competitive Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Institutes. The program, through the U.S. Department of State, selected 575 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students, including UNL's Skylar Falter, Christopher Reznicek, Michael Schuster and Zachary Smith.

The program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering "critical" foreign languages. The scholarships are particularly important because of their highly competitive nature and because they give students intensive, in-country language immersion experience that is so useful for their continuing study. They can also sometimes serve as a gateway to encourage students to other international scholarship programs, like the Fulbright U.S. student program, said Laura Damuth, UNL's director of national and international fellowships.

Falter, of Lincoln, studied Mandarin for four years before traveling to Xi'an, China. After graduating from UNL with a degree in bioengineering with a focus in environmental engineering, Faltar hopes to become a global leader between the United States and China to solve critical issues in energy sustainability and food security.

Reznicek, from Bentonville, Ark., is a recent UNL graduate and studied Korean in Jeonju, South Korea. He chose the Critical Language Scholarships program because he accepted a job at LG U+ in Daejeon, South Korea, and wanted to be as prepared as possible. He will continue to work in South Korea and has hopes to work in the future as a high-level manager in Asia at a global technology or engineering firm.

Schuster, an art history graduate, studied Arabic in Tunis, Tunisia. After studying abroad he plans to attend graduate school with a focus on Middle Eastern studies, where he hopes to study the influence of art and culture on social movements in the Muslim majority world.

With degrees in both music (vocal performance) and political science, Smith traveled to Amman, Jordan, this summer. The Troy, Wis., native had traveled to Jordan previously in summer 2010 under a Boren scholarship where he honed his Arabic language skills. During his most recent stay, Smith wanted another summer of intensive language work to bolster his Arabic before beginning graduate study of Middle East politics. He hopes to work in public service focusing on the Middle East, with likely work in the U.S. Foreign Service or other agencies.

The Critical Language scholarships in 2012 sent students to study Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangl/Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish or Urdu languages. The students spend seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes in 14 countries where these languages are spoken. The program provides fully funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences. The program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their careers.

— Anna McTygue, Honors Program