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Thomas receives State Department Critical Language Scholarship

BOONE—Elizabeth J. Thomas of Matthews has received a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Russian this summer. Thomas is a junior sociology/social inequalities major at Appalachian State University.

She hopes to attend graduate school after graduating from Appalachian and earn a Master’s in Public Health degree, focusing on epidemiology.

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“I am interested in developing my Russian language skills because I am minoring in Russian and have developed a love of the language and culture,” Thomas said. “I hope to work in Russia or the Ukraine with the Peace Corps during graduate school. I am also very interested in global health.”

Thomas is minoring in Russian and in medical humanities, which is designed for the health care pre-professional who wants to have a broader program of study than the required major or courses.

She leaves for Russia in mid-June to study in Ufa, the capital city of the Republic of Bashkortostan. “I’ll be taking various Russian classes such as phonetics, language, literature and conversation,” she said.

The CLS Program provides domestic and international airfare, language instruction, housing and meals, cultural enrichment activities, applicable visa fees, and entry fees for program-related excursions. Participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

Thomas is among the approximately 575 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who received a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State’s CLS Program. Students will spend seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes this summer in 14 countries where these languages are spoken.

The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish or Urdu languages.

Selected finalists for the 2012 CLS Program hail from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia and represent 239 institutions of higher education from across the United States, including public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, minority-serving institutions and community colleges.

CLS Program participants are among the more than 40,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported annually by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The CLS Program is administered by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) and American Councils for International Education.

For more information about the CLS Program or other exchange programs offered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, visit and