Three Berkeley undergraduates have received Critical Language Scholarships, a U.S. State Department program aimed at expanding the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are considered critical to national security and economic prosperity. The scholarship funds overseas summer language and cultural immersion programs for students planning to use their language skills in their future professional careers.
Ransom Miller (’24, Global Studies) is headed to Tainan, Taiwan to study Mandarin. Ransom decided to start learning Chinese in middle school because it was the hardest (and therefore the “coolest”) language offered. Years later, he still loves the beauty of the language’s tones and finds it a lot of fun to learn and speak. A sophomore, Ransom fit two years of Chinese into his freshman year at Cal and the following summer, qualifying him to apply for this particular CLS program. He plans to become a foreign service officer in the U.S. State Department and use his language skills throughout his career. Despite his interest in Global Studies, this will be Ransom’s first experience outside the United States, other than one-week school trip to Italy and, apparently, accidentally crossing Mexican border on foot as a child! He credits applying for a couple of competitive study abroad programs as a freshman, and not being selected them, for teaching him how to become a better candidate.
Kristie Moore (’25, Global Studies) will continue her Russian studies in the CLS program in Bishkek, Kyrgystan this summer. Inspired by a high school teacher who got her interested in Russia and Cold War diplomacy, Kristie, a freshman from Southern California, studied Russian in Moscow in 2019 through NSLI-Y, the U.S. State Department’s overseas language program for high school students, for which Kristie serves as an alumni representative. Looking ahead, she hopes to study East European Studies/Russian in graduate school and possibly pursue a stateside career in the State Department. For now, Kristie is thrilled to have the opportunity to focus her attention entirely on Russian this summer and be immersed in a new culture. She encourages her peers to be genuine about their interests and passions, rather than second-guessing what selectors want to hear, when applying for programs.
Maurice Ruttimann (’22, Interdisciplinary Studies) will spend the summer studying advanced Turkish in Ankara. While doing an internship and studying French in Brussels in 2020, Maurice made many Turkish friends and became interested in the Middle East. Undeterred by not receiving a CLS last summer, he instead took an intensive course in Turkish at the University of Indiana and is now in his second semester of Turkish Poetry and Literature here at Cal. To build on his linguistic skills and extend his time abroad in Turkey, Maurice independently secured funding support from UC Berkeley’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies to take courses on international trade at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul in Fall 2022. He encourages Cal students to ask their professors for funding and study abroad ideas and to not be shy in applications about explaining why programs like CLS should invest in them.
For more information about the CLS program, please visit: https://scholarships.berkeley.edu/cls/.