USD students awarded Critical Language Scholarships in 2012

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Two University of South Dakota students were awarded Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Institutes by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and The Council of American Overseas Research Centers.

Jessie Milstead from Hartford, S.D. will study Arabic while Kendra Van Nyhuis of Hull, Iowa will study Korean through this program, which allocates funding for students to participate in beginning, intermediate and advanced level summer language programs. Scholarship recipients are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period and later apply their critical language skills in their professional careers.

Milstead, a political science and physics major, is traveling to Jordan to study at the Jordan Institute in Amman. Van Nyhuis, who will graduate this month with a B.A. in anthropology and music, will attend the University of California Berkeley in the fall for their M.A./Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology, a combination of anthropology and music.

“Most of my research has been on East Asian music and instruments,” explained Van Nyhuis, daughter of Kevin and Linda Roozing of Hull, Iowa. “My end goal is to become a college professor and teach while doing research.”

Van Nyhuis will spend two months abroad in South Korea prior to enrolling at California-Berkeley. She will stay with a Korean family to fully immerse herself in language learning. As far as music goes, Van Nyhuis fully immersed herself in working on campus at the National Music Museum for two years. Not only did the experience expose her to a vast collection of musical instruments, it also helped her outline a career path.

“The National Music Museum has been an extremely important resource in my research,” Van Nyhuis said. “My honors thesis was a comparative analysis of East Asian bamboo flutes, which I could not have completed without the extensive collection at the National Music Museum. I have been working there for almost two years, and it shaped my career goals.”

Download a photo of Van Nyhuis.

Music, too, has played a big part in Milstead’s life. The daughter of Mike and Rhonda Milstead of Hartford plays a variety of musical instruments from the guitar to the saxophone, but politics, particularly Middle Eastern politics, keep her in step these days. That’s why the West Central High School graduate (2007) will be studying Arabic to develop a foundation in the Jordanian dialect.

“The Jordan Institute is considered the equivalent of a full academic year of Arabic study,” stated Milstead, a 2010 Boren Scholar. “For four hours per day, five days per week, I will be in the classroom learning both Modern Standard Arabic and the Jordanian dialect.”

It will be the third time in her academic career that Milstead has earned an opportunity to study the Arabic language in the Middle East. As a USD sophomore, Milstead traveled to Egypt. The David L. Boren Scholarship paid for a year of study at American University in Cairo. She was in the midst of this study abroad experience last winter when an Egyptian uprising led to a revolution that grabbed worldwide headlines. She returned safely to the U.S. weeks earlier than planned but because her studies in Cairo were interrupted, the Boren covered an additional three months for Milstead to study in Rabat, Morocco last summer. It was an unusual experience for the 23 year-old, but she’s looking forward to a return to the Middle East.

“The USD community has played a significant role in my academic success by providing the opportunities for me to be able to study around the world,” said Milstead, whose father, Mike, is the Minnehaha County Sheriff, and brother, Jeremy, is a 1st Lt. in the United States Army. “The support from faculty and administrative staff has created a very positive atmosphere at USD.”

Download a photo of Milstead.

Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and administered by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, the Critical Language Scholarships Program was launched in 2006. In its inaugural year, the program offered intensive overseas study in the critical need foreign languages of Arabic, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Turkish and Urdu. In 2012, 631 students representing 240 colleges and universities from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico were selected to receive a 2012 Critical Language Scholarship award. Over 5,200 students applied for the award, which places CLS among some of the most competitive scholarship competitions in the U.S. All program costs are covered for participants. This includes travel between the student’s home city and program location, pre-departure orientation costs, applicable visa fees, room, board, travel within country and all entrance fees for program activities. For more information, visit http://clscholarship.org.

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Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 206 undergraduate and 71 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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