SUU Student Awarded Critical Language Scholarship Through U.S. State Department

Published: August 03, 2023 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 4 minutes

Gracia AllenSouthern Utah University senior Gracia Allen has been awarded the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Allen is majoring in political science and minoring in Spanish and family services and will be learning Chinese this summer through the CLS Spark program. 

“The program was designed to give students from more rural communities like SUU opportunities to learn these languages–we already have a strong Chinese department here but we don’t really have the option to learn Russian or Arabic,” said Allen. “It’s been really cool to take advantage of this opportunity and I’m really excited to learn more about the Chinese language.”

The CLS Spark scholarship is still in its beta testing phase and focuses on languages that are essential to the United States’ engagement in the world. 

“We need doctors who speak Swahili and teachers who speak Arabic, and the goal has always been positive international relations,” said Allen.

There are many other schools that the program partners with, and students have the option to learn Russian, Chinese, and Arabic. Participants spend the summer learning through online classes and activities facilitated by native speakers at a host institution abroad. Allen will be studying Chinese this summer through the Dalian University of Technology, a school in Dalian, China. 

During her time at SUU, Allen has accomplished many things, she considers her greatest achievement to be learning a language that allows her to communicate with people. She credits the exemplary SUU Spanish Department for their teaching and their help and looks forward to learning more languages. 

Choosing SUU was no challenge for Allen as her mother is a professor of social work and family and human development at the university, who passed her love of social sciences and human development on to her daughter. 

“I think I was naturally raised to be a human development nerd,” said Allen. “I’m very interested in everything, and political science combines a lot of different topics. You have to know a little about everything to be able to do political science.”

Her love of Spanish and languages comes from serving a mission in Tucson, Arizona for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Allen also credits her love of family studies to Human Development through the Lifespan (FLHD 1500), a class she took from Professor Clint Broadbent.

 “Everyone should take this class,” said Allen. “It is important for everyone to understand interpersonal relationships and human development regardless of their major or stage of life they are in.”

Another opportunity that Gracia was able to take advantage of during her time at SUU was an internship at the Utah State Legislature through the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service. She worked closely with a Utah State Senator and learn about the Utah government firsthand.

“I cannot encourage enough people to do an internship like this,” said Allen. “I got so much out of it, and I know the other interns did too. Politics and governments affect everyone in every part of life, so this internship is relevant to everybody. The opportunity to learn is there and the Leavitt Center is so willing to help interested students get internships.”

For Allen, the most challenging part of college has been learning to balance life and school. Amidst all the demands from different areas of life and focus, Allen has found ways to budget her time and follow through on her list of priorities. 

“There’s always going to be people and things that demand your time,” said Allen. “And it feels like everything is the most important thing. However, the most important thing is to prioritize your mental and physical health, so you can have the energy to put effort into your work. It’s also important to find time to get social enrichment with your family and friends and whatever other activities you do.” 

To incoming students, Allen offers her advice: 

“Anything’s possible to learn. Our brains are so amazing and it’s important to follow your passions and interests. In this world, it’s easy to only see the monetary side of jobs and things, but it’s better to follow your heart and do what you love because that’s so much more fulfilling than a paycheck. Not to mention that there are so many specific job options, some of which you won’t find out about until you’re in the field. ”

The SUU Political Science and Criminal Justice department offer students hands-on experience in the fields of law, politics, law enforcement, and more, and at all levels (local, county, state, regional, and national). Graduates have been accepted to various prestigious law schools across the country, serve their respective communities, and are employed in many different government positions. To learn more about programs and degrees, visit SUU Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice

To learn more about available political science internship opportunities, students can visit the Leavitt Center. SUU students that would like more information about international study opportunities should visit the Office of Learning Abroad.

Tags: College of Humanities and Social Sciences CurStu Leavitt Center Political Science

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