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Three WVU students awarded Critical Language Scholarships

Critical Language Scholars

 Clara Haizlett, Lawrence Georgiana, and Erica Thieman

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A desire to make a difference in the world along with their linguistic skills helped three West Virginia University students win Critical Language Scholarships from the U.S. Department of State.

The Critical Language Scholarship is a highly competitive and prestigious program that provides a fully funded summer overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. With the goal of broadening the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and building relationships between the people of the United States and other countries, the scholarships provide opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the United States at every level of language learning.

Clara Haizlett, a sophomore international studies and Spanish major in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, will study Arabic in Tangier, Morocco. The Honors College student from Bethany, plans to go to law school and focus on asylum seeking and refugee law. 

“Morocco is a culturally rich country with Beber, European, African and Arab influences. I am thrilled to spend my summer there,” Haizlett said. “I will be living with a host family so that will really allow me to experience the day-to-day life of Moroccans.”

For as long as she can remember, Erica Thieman has been curious about foreign cultures and life beyond her small hometown of Williamstown. This summer she will study Arabic in Amman, Jordan. The senior business administration major plans to use this experience and her minor in Arabic Studies to work for an organization that develops aid programs in disaster-stricken regions.

“Although I’ve studied other languages, I was completely smitten when I began to explore Arabic culture and its beautiful language. Thieman said. “The Arabic department and Arab community at WVU have been very welcoming and encouraging in my desire to immerse myself even further into the culture.”

A summer in Suzhou China will enable Lawrence Georgiana of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, to sharpen his Chinese language skills. The senior international studies and Chinese major in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences plans to have a career in national security or the diplomatic realm.

“I am excited about experiencing a new city in China with all of its imperial-era gardens and structures,” Georgiana said. “When I was in the Navy, I was stationed in the Pacific and I am fascinated by the region.”

"I am always honored and humbled to work with the wonderful students who apply for this scholarship,” said David Hauser, teaching associate professor in political science and CLS faculty advisor. “WVU students are very competitive for this program, and the State Department has recognized the quality of our programs many times.”

WVU has had 28 Critical Language Scholars since 2008. Students who are interested in this scholarship or other nationally competitive awards can contact the ASPIRE Office at to set up an appointment.



CONTACT: Dr. David Hauser, CLS faculty advisor; 304.293.3811

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