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Published June 15, 2023
University of Wyoming senior Katie Johnson is a recent recipient of the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Award. Johnson, of Casper, will live with a host family and study Portuguese at Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil June 21-Aug. 17.
This competitive award covers all costs -- travel, room and board, and courses -- of an overseas immersive summer opportunity for American college and university students to learn critical languages.
Critical languages are lesser-taught languages that are essential to America’s engagement with the world. The CLS summer program allows recipients to spend eight to 10 weeks learning one of 14 languages at an intensive study-abroad institute, with the goal of language and cultural competency in regions that are critical to U.S. national security and economic prosperity.
Johnson chose Brazil because it will enhance her ability to communicate across South America and jump-start her future diplomatic career.
“With the wealthiest states in the Americas working together to develop both continents, we can improve many peoples’ accesses to resources, leading to better, healthier lives,” Johnson says. “I have come to appreciate America’s role and responsibility to the world. I realize that I won the lottery by being born into the wealthiest, most powerful country on Earth. Given my specific skills and love of public service, I feel that the State Department is the institution where I can help the most.”
Approximately 500 students were selected for the 2023 CLS Program. Awardees were selected from over 5,000 applicants and represent 245 higher education institutions across the United States. Finalists come from a diverse range of backgrounds, including all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. Over half of the recipients identify as racial or ethnic minorities; one-third of recipients are Pell-eligible; one-quarter are first-generation college students; and 8 percent are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
“I am thrilled to learn Portuguese and about Brazil’s beautiful culture,” she says.
Johnson is a senior double majoring in international studies with a concentration in Latin America and governance/conflict resolution and philosophy, with minors in Spanish and honors.
Johnson, who speaks fluent Spanish, previously completed three study-abroad programs through UW: “Viking Economics in Iceland” during 2021; “Center for International Experiential Learning Middle East - The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Peace Process,” where she visited Israel, Jordan and Palestine in 2022; and a study-abroad and internship program in Ecuador, also during 2022.
“I lived in Cuenca, Ecuador, during the spring of 2022 and studied Latin American and Indigenous studies at Universidad de Cuenca. All of my courses were in Spanish,” Johnson says.
All UW CLS recipients are supported by the UW Global Engagement Office and the Education Abroad Office.
For more information about this program, go to https://clscholarship.org/.