Four from UB are awarded U.S. State Department’s most competitive language scholarship

Four from UB are awarded U.S. State Department’s most competitive language scholarship

Four University of Bridgeport students have been awarded U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships, among the most competitive in the field, to spend the summer abroad at intensive language programs.

Students Ana Rena, Justin Sabo and Fernando Gonzalez have been accepted into the Arabic language study program at a site still yet to be determined in the Middle East.

Sung Soon Gavel won a CLS to study Korean at Chonnam National University in Gwangju, South Korea

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) program is part of a U.S. government effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages deemed to be of particular importance. They include but are not limited to: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Chinese, Persian, Russian, and Urdu. The program fully funds eight to 10 weeks of group-based intensive language instruction at 24 locations.

The scholarships are highly competitive; just 10 percent of students who apply to the program are awarded one. But since 2011, eight University of Bridgeport students, including the four 2017 winners, have won them.

“As an application evaluator for the Critical Language Scholarships, I can confirm that the pool of applicants to the program include some of the nation’s brightest students at leading universities across the country. So having one CLS winner, or even having students make it to the final rounds, would be worthy of celebration. The fact that four were granted awards is a phenomenal testament to our students’ hard work.  They make us very proud,” said Brandon LaFavor, director of UB Education Abroad Resource Center.

This year’s group of Critical Language Scholars are all enrolled at the College of Public and International Affairs (CPIA) at the University of Bridgeport. The school’s six undergraduate and four graduate programs groom students in fields related to diplomacy, including international security and global development. CPIA alumni have gone on to work for the FBI, the Department of State, Defense Department, United Nations, Council of Europe, as well as global NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) and private industry.

For more information about the Critical Language Scholarship, visit the program’s website.

Media contact: Leslie Geary, (203)576-4625,