Elon students awarded Critical Language Scholarships by the U.S. Department of State

Through the scholarships, Taylor Garner ’20 and Kathryn Gerry ’20 will have the opportunity to study foreign languages deemed critical to U.S. diplomacy and outreach.

Two Elon University students have received awards through a federal scholarship program designed to further their study of foreign languages critical to U.S. diplomacy and outreach.

Taylor Garner and Kathryn Gerry, both members of the Class of 2020, have the opportunity to study Arabic through the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, which this year considered nearly 5,000 applications from undergraduate and graduate students.

The program supports the study of 15 critical languages and provides fully funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to increase language fluency and cultural competency. Students spend eight to 10 weeks abroad through the program, which plays an important role in preparing students for the global workforce and increasing national competitiveness.

Taylor Garner ’20

Garner will have the opportunity to study Arabic in Jordan through a program that runs from June through August. The program in Amman, Jordan, is hosted by the Jordan Language Academy, a private independent institution that seeks to teach Arabic language and culture to promote international and intercultural understanding.

Students will have an average of 16 hours per week of instruction in Modern Standard Arabic that will be supplemented with an average of four hours per week learning and mastering the Jordanian dialect. The program includes one-on-one meetings with Jordanian language partners with students staying with local host families in Amman.

Garner, an Honors Fellow majoring in international and global studies, has also been selected as a semifinalist for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Grant. While at Elon, she has studied abroad in Argentina and Palestine, and is a recipient of the 2019 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad. Garner was supported in her application by Sandy Marshall, assistant professor of geography, Shereen Elgamal, lecturer in Arabic, and Bob Frigo, associate director of the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement.

“Growing up, I was fortunate enough to travel the world and immerse myself in different cultures and this, to me, is the culmination of my experiences which have very much shaped who I am,” Garner said. “I am passionate about Middle Eastern studies and have been inspired by my experience in Palestine to return to the region.”

Kathryn Gerry ’20

Gerry has been selected to study Arabic in Ibri, Oman, with that program running from the end of May through the end of July. The Critical Language Scholarship in Oman is hosted by the Noor Majan Training Institute which offers a high-quality learning experience in an encouraging and interactive environment.

Students in the program will have an average of 16 hours of instruction in Modern Standard Arabic each week to be supplemented by an average of four hours each week working on the Omani dialect. Students will live in dormitories in the Noor Majan Training Institute throughout the program but will visit with their language partner’s family and an Omani host family on multiple weekends. They will also participate in extracurricular activities and excursions to other parts of Oman.

Gerry is a Multifaith Scholar who is majoring in political science and international and global studies and who has also been named a semifinalist for a Fulbright Study/Research Grant to Bahrain. She has studied abroad in Varanasi, India, and has focused her undergraduate research on examining worker migration from the South Indian state of Kerala to the Gulf, and how that is impacting the social, economic and religious landscapes in Kerala. She was supported in her application for the scholarship by Elgamal, and Amy Allocco, associate professor of religious studies.

“The immersive context of the Critical Language Scholarship would enhance my language and cultural competency to help me achieve my professional and personal goals,” Gerry said. “Specifically, I expect to improve my cultural adaptability and everyday language skills by having more spontaneous and personal exchanges across cultures.”

To learn more about the Critical Language Scholarship and other nationally competitive awards, visit the National and International Fellowships website where students and alumni can request an appointment, or stop by the office in Powell Suite 108.