Three students accepted into national CLS program for the first time in seven years

CLS recipients Lala Hilizah (C’21), Campbell Stuart (C’20), and Jasmine Huang (C’21). Photo by Klarke Stricklen (C’22).

By Klarke Stricklen
Junior Editor

The Critical Language Scholarship Program (CLS) is a national overseas language program that allows American students to immerse themselves into other cultures as well as intensively learn another language. The program covers the full cost of the trip as well as a stipend for students. This year, Lala Hilizah (C’21), Campbell Stuart (C’20), and Jasmine Huang (C’21) were among the winners for the scholarship program.

CLS seeks to prepare students for a globalized workforce as well as aide them in foreign affairs to ensure economic prosperity. Students who apply to CLS go through a rigorous application selection period and an anxiety-filled waiting process.

“I was extremely anxious throughout the entire process, especially once I made it to the semi-finalist round,” said Hilizah. “So, yeah, I was a nervous wreck.”

While CLS offers a wide range of benefits, the program only accepts 10 percent of its applicants. So, for the brilliant few who do receive the scholarship, their admittance may come as a shock.

“I was in lab when I got my acceptance and I kind of had an internal freak out,” said Stuart in reference to the program. “I was trying to play it cool in front of all of my classmates but I was overwhelmingly excited and just told everyone.”

The students were all notified of their acceptance on the same day and later emailed their placements the following Monday. Hilizah will be studying Arabic at the Arab American Language Institute in Meknes, Morocco. Stuart will be studying Korean in Busan, South Korea at Pusan National University, and Huang will be studying Chinese in Suzhou, China.

The Purple had a chance to speak with the winners about the program and its importance in their future endeavors.

“I hope to go into international relations later in life and with the current dynamics between China and America, I know there’s a growing need for people who know the lay of the land between the two states,” said Huang.

Hilizah said, “I’m hoping to use my experience of living in a predominantly Muslim nation to aid my field of studies. I will also be studying in Jordan this fall where I hope to learn more about the humanitarian crisis with Syria, intern with an INGO and hopefully find a passion for non-profit work in this part of the world.”

The three winners hope to see more Sewanee students apply and ultimately admitted into the program.

“The application isn’t intimidating, but I think a strong application really does require a lot of careful consideration,” said Stuart in reference to future applicants. “There is no reason not to apply if you are interested, so just go for it! You can always apply again if you don’t get it on the first go around.”