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Three students have been awarded scholarships to travel abroad to study languages that are imperative to the United States’ future security and stability.

This year’s Critical Language Scholarship recipients will study Russian, Korean, and Arabic:

Julia Goncalves

Julia Goncalves, of Cleveland, Tennessee, a rising junior in German studies and Russian studies and a member of the Chancellor’s Honors Program, will be studying Russian in Vladimir, Russia. Goncalves said being selected for this scholarship program “allows me to live one of my dreams by diving deep into a fascinating culture rich in history, literature, and tradition. I hope this opportunity helps me become a better ambassador for my country and pushes me toward my ultimate dream of becoming a Foreign Service officer.”

Iker Sedeno
Iker Sedeno

Iker Sedeño, of Knoxville, Tennessee, who is working on his master’s degree in Spanish, will be studying Korean in South Korea. Sedeño developed an interest in learning Korean after making friends with some students from South Korea as an undergraduate.I found that learning Korean in the United States is hard because there are few universities teaching it in a formal classroom,” he said. “My goal is to have Korean as my third language. I’m sure this will open to me so many doors in my career.”

Jonathan Thomas
Jonathan Thomas

Jonathan Thomas, of Jellico, Tennessee, a rising senior in the Chancellor’s Honors Program majoring in health care and community transformation in the Middle East through the College Scholars program, will be studying Arabic in Meknes, Morocco. “I am so honored to have been chosen for this prestigious scholarship program,” he said.

The Critical Language Scholarship program is part of a US government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are less commonly taught in US schools but are essential for America’s engagement with the world. Students will spend eight to 10 weeks overseas learning one of 14 critical languages—Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, or Urdu—and will serve as ambassadors representing the diversity of the United States abroad and building lasting relationships with people in their host countries.

The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. Scholarship recipients are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and to apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

UT students interested in applying for the Critical Language Scholarship or other nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships should contact Andrew Seidler, director of UT’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, at


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,

Andrew Seidler, UT Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships (865-974-3518,