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Intellect

BYU awards 37 Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarships

Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarships (FLAS) are back at Brigham Young University and now include generous support for undergraduates — as well as graduate students — focusing on Europe and Asia.

BYU’s Center for the Study of Europe and Asian Studies program in the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies recently notified 37 BYU students of a bonus this week totaling $471,000 in FLAS awards to cover tuition and stipends for the 2010–11 academic year. More than 250 BYU students applied for the awards.

“The purpose of the FLAS program is to strengthen area studies across the United States,” said Eric Hyer, Asian Studies coordinator. “Area expertise is the emphasis of the program, and language proficiency is only one important tool used by country and regional experts.”

The FLAS and National Resource Center grants will help BYU build its already strong European and Asian Studies programs, including its foreign language programs.

Asian Studies awarded FLAS to four graduate students and 16 undergraduate students in the amount of $249,000, and the Center for the Study of Europe awarded FLAS to six graduate students and 11 undergraduate students, totaling $222,000.

The average GPA for the FLAS recipients this year was 3.75, making these very competitive scholarships.

A large cross-section of undergraduate majors received FLAS awards, from philosophy to exercise science, with social sciences and humanities majors being scholarship recipients as well.

Graduate students also come from all across campus, with awardees representing law, business, linguistics, music, public health, German studies and more.

 “The FLAS committee was struck by the creative way many applicants leveraged previous international experience into a compelling application that will give them a head start professionally,” said Wade Jacoby, professor of political science and director of the Center for the Study of Europe.

Specific highlights from a few current winners include:

  • Joel Christensen is a double major in Chinese and computer science and interned in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, assisting the legal advisor and working on IT issues. He is currently in the Chinese Flagship program.
  • Megan Dunnigan taught English in Japan while improving her language skills as she lived with a host family. She is majoring in international relations and minoring in management.
  • Dereck Flora speaks Spanish and served an LDS mission in Albania. Based on his interest in the Balkans, he is now learning Turkish and plans to go into the Foreign Service upon graduation.
  • Annie Fuller speaks Japanese but recently completed the new General Education Sienna Study Abroad and will continue her study of Italian as she also prepares for graduate work in disaster management.
  • Christian Maynes will study Indonesian, even though he is majoring in Middle East studies Arabic, and is exploring “linguistic anthropology and identity of Indonesian Muslims,” including Indonesians’ use of Arabic “loan words.”
  • Jordan Teuscher built upon his LDS mission in Ukraine to get deeply involved in religious freedom and rule of law issues in Central and Eastern Europe. His current study of Romanian—in addition to French and Russian language abilities—is meant to broaden his religious freedom expertise to new contexts.

All awardees had similar impressive academic records and rich international experience and career objectives. Past FLAS recipients have found the awards to be a significant vocational advantage as they graduated and pursued other opportunities.
Kelsey Perry, a FLAS recipient, said, “This fellowship is what some people might call a ‘game changer’ for me. I was absolutely elated when I received the fellowship because it gives me the opportunity to complement my public health graduate work with greater Italian proficiency.”

FLAS awards will continue over the next four years. The next round of applications will be due Jan. 15, 2011, and will lead to approximately 10 awards for summer 2011, in addition to an estimated 35 awards for the 2011–12 academic year.

A workshop will be held later Fall 2010 Semester to help students learn how to navigate the scholarship application process. Intellectual curiosity, a compelling rationale and strong writing skills will help students who are seeking to garner these generous awards.

“The FLAS Committee looks for clear evidence of past commitment to language and area studies,” Jacoby said. “It’s not enough to have a mission language on your résumé. Students also need to participate in high quality internships. They are an essential starting point for the types of students who will be competitive both in FLAS and in their careers.”

Students interested in the FLAS grants should visit flas.byu.edu or contact the David M. Kennedy Center at (801) 422-3377.

Writer: Lee Simons

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