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Three UT students will be spending their summer abroad, immersed in foreign language and culture, all thanks to a US Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS).

Lisa Dicker, junior in political science, will study Chinese in China; Jeremy Pearson, graduate student in history, will study Arabic in Jordan; and Kenneth Pearson, senior in electrical engineering, will study Punjabi in India.

These students are among the approximately 575 US undergraduate and graduate students who received a scholarship from the US Department of State’s CLS Program in 2012 to study Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, or Urdu languages. All are deemed “critical-need” foreign languages. The students will spend seven to ten weeks in intensive language institutes this summer in their respective countries.

The CLS program provides fully-funded, group-based intensive language instruction and cultural enrichment experiences. Students get at least twenty hours of classroom instruction each week as well as one-on-one tutoring. Participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

A native of Tullahoma, Tennessee, Dicker will be living in Beijing, China with a host family and will take courses at Beijing Language and Culture University.

“I have always viewed studying abroad as a critical aspect of my education, especially considering my academic concentrations in international relations, Asian culture, and Mandarin Chinese,” Dicker said. “When I heard about the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship Program, and I knew I had to apply because it was everything I could hope for in a program. There is no better way to learn a language than being completely surrounded by it and being required to take a language pledge and only speak that language.”

Dicker said she plans to attend law school after graduation and would like to work for the State Department or become a Judge Advocate General.

The CLS program is part of a US government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Selected finalists for the 2012 CLS Program hail from all fifty states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia and represent 239 colleges and universities from across the United States.

For further information about the CLS Program or other exchange programs offered by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please visit and

C O N T A C T :

Karen Simsen (865-974-5186,

James A. Lawrence, CLS Program (202-632-3241)