When Grace Kovic ’21 decided to explore a class in Chinese during her first year of high school, she immediately sparked a new passion.
Now, Kovic, a math major minoring in Chinese, is one of several Conn students who have recently received prestigious national awards and scholarships to study critical languages abroad.
Kovic was awarded a Boren scholarship to spend the summer studying in Beijing, something she has been eager to do for years.
“I have wanted to become fluent in Chinese for some time, and I knew that immersing myself in the language in China would be an essential step towards that goal,” Kovic said.
The Boren Awards—named after former U.S. Senator David Boren, helps promote his decades-long commitment to providing opportunities for students to learn critical languages and to expand cultural awareness through funding of global educational exchanges.
The scholarship provides up to $8,000 for students majoring in STEM fields to study a language abroad for a minimum of eight weeks.
“I’m incredibly grateful to have been awarded this scholarship,” added Kovic, who explained she’d be participating in a study abroad program next summer after it was postponed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
A service-oriented award, all Boren recipients are required to work in the U.S. government for at least one year. Kovic said she’s interested in using that time to apply her math and language skills as a data analyst for a government agency.
Kovic’s fellow rising senior Hillary Tun ’21 has also recently received a scholarship to study Chinese: the Gilman Critical Need Language Award, along with a Fund for Education Scholarship (FEA)—an honor awarded to only 41 students out of more than 1,800 applicants from 470 colleges and universities across the U.S.
A Posse scholar from Chicago and a scholar in Conn’s Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts who is majoring in history and minoring in Chinese, Tun says her dedicated advisers at Conn have helped shape her path, particularly her growth as a language student.
“My language journey at Conn is a highlight of my college experience,” Tun said. “I have made lifelong friends from around the world and meaningful connections through Chinese language study.”
In addition to the highly competitive Gilman and FEA scholarships, Tun is also the recipient of Conn’s newly established Chu-Kuo Fellowship for Chinese Language Study.
The fellowship was established to honor the legacies of two beloved emeritus Conn professors; Charles Chu and Henry T.K. Kuo, both of whom taught Chinese at the College. It provides $5,000 for one student each year to study Chinese during either the summer or winter breaks.
Another Gilman scholarship recipient, Dashiell Hunter ’22, has also been awarded a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Arabic.
Hunter, a philosophy and international relations double major who is minoring in Arabic, was scheduled to study this summer in Amman Jordan, but the program was cancelled onsite due to COVID-19. He hopes the program will still occur remotely, led by professors from the University of Jordan. And with funding provided from the Gilman Award, Hunter plans to study in Rabat, Morocco, next summer. He is particularly interested in finding ways to increase voter access for Moroccan women.
“I am really honored to have received the State Department Critical Language and Gilman Scholarships,” Hunter said. “I think this pandemic highlights how interdependent we all are, and how critically important an understanding of foreign languages and cultures such as Arabic will be in terms of obtaining a global resolution, such as a vaccine,” he added.
Funded by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, CLS scholarships are highly selective and cover the costs, including travel, room and board, to study abroad for up to 10 weeks in an intensive language program.