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Students earn State Department scholarship

By Kari VanDerVeen
May 9, 2012

Josie Boyle '12 (left) and Esme Marie '14 were among the 631 undergraduate and graduate students nationwide selected to receive a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship.

St. Olaf students Josie Boyle '12 and Esme Marie '14 will spend the summer in an intense learning environment abroad after receiving a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship.

The program, among the most competitive scholarship competitions in the country, sends U.S. students to language institutes around the globe as part of an effort to increase the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Boyle and Marie were among the 631 undergraduate and graduate students nationwide chosen to receive the award from the more than 5,200 who applied.

Boyle will study Russian at Bashkir State Pedagogical University in Ufa, a city near Russia's Ural Mountains. Marie will study Arabic in Tunisia. As part of the program, both will also participate in activities designed to familiarize them with local culture.

A Russian and biology major at St. Olaf, Boyle studied in Irkutsk, Russia, during the fall semester of last year. She has studied Russian for four years and hopes the State Department program this summer will move her nearer to fluency. She plans to either attend graduate school for Russian/Slavic studies or enter the field of sustainable agriculture.

Marie is majoring in political science at St. Olaf with a concentration in Middle East studies. First introduced to Arabic in the home of a close childhood friend, she has long been interested in the culture, religion, history, and political affairs of the Middle East. With the launch of the college's Alternative Language Study Option program this year, which offers students the opportunity to study languages outside the traditional language curriculum currently offered at St. Olaf, she began studying Arabic on campus.

Participants in the Critical Language Scholarship Program are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or