Baylor Sophomore Receives Critical Language Scholarship to China

Feb. 28, 2011

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Baylor University sophomore Jared Strickland, an Asian studies major from Waynesboro, Miss., has received the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study in China this summer as part of the U.S. government's National Security Language Initiative to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical-need foreign languages.

"I'm really fortunate to be able to participate in the program," Strickland said. "When I first started Chinese, I never expected to be able to study under the State Department two years later. I had a lot of help getting to this point, and it's an honor to receive such an opportunity."

The CLS Program provides fully funded seven- to 10-week group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences held overseas at the beginning, intermediate and advanced levels for U.S. citizen undergraduate, master's and Ph.D. students. The CLS is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers and the American Councils for International Education.

This is the third consecutive year a Baylor student has been selected for the program.

Strickland initially planned on studying Russian while at Baylor. Strickland's older brother, Scott, encouraged him to take Chinese his freshman year. "My passion really came from taking classes here at school," he said.

Dr. Xin Wang, director of the Asian Studies program at Baylor, has been his primary influence, Strickland said. "He always set the bar high in his classes, and without him I'm certain I would not have made the cut for this award," he said.

Wang has taught all of Strickland's Chinese classes and serves as his mentor for his major. "I am extremely impressed with his exceptional linguistic and intellectual ability, as well as his serious attitude toward learning," Wang said. "He has a strong desire to learn Chinese language and culture."

Strickland studied with the Baylor in China program last summer. "I'm really excited to go back," he said. "It's been a year since my first trip, and I realize how much I miss it."

In addition to Chinese, the CLS program offers intensive overseas study in the critical-need foreign languages of Arabic, Persian, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Turkish, Urdu, Japanese and Russian. The critical language initiative was launched in 2006, with the purpose of strengthening national security, economic competitiveness and cultural understanding through the development of foreign language skills, especially in critical regions of the world.

Recipients are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period and apply their critical language skills in their academic and professional careers.

Involved in Baylor's ROTC program, Strickland hopes to commission into the Air Force as a Second Lieutenant after graduation. Chinese is considered a critical language by the Department of Defense.

"Regardless of what my job in the Air Force will be, my goal is to use my language experience in my career field and use it well. Learning it the best I can in college contributes to that goal," he said.

For more information about the Critical Language Scholarship program, visit http://www.baylor.edu/scholarships/.

For more information about scholarship opportunities at Baylor, visit the Office of National and International Scholarships.

by Susie Typher, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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