Pair of Russian language students earn Critical Language Scholarships
A duo of second-year Russian students earned U.S. State Department’s Critical Language Scholarships (CLS) and will travel to Russia for a summer immersion program.
Hope Ovcharenko and Ramona Kline become the 10th and 11th students from Portland Community College’s Russian program to earn the prestigious scholarship since 2011. Alisa Bilozertseva was named an alternate and will also get to travel to Russia if another recipient cannot participate.
“Winning a Critical Language Scholarship is one of the highest honors a student can receive as an undergraduate studying in Russian,” said Russian language instructor Kristine Shmakov, who is also chair of the World Languages Program. “I am so proud of having incredibly talented students who are able to compete with the best Russian students nationally.”
The Critical Language Scholarship Program is a fully-funded 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, CLS provides opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the United States at every level of language learning.
In addition to the two Russian language scholars, PCC had its first Turkey CLS scholar.
Both Ovcharenko and Kline had to fill out a lengthy application, which included multiple short essays, two letters of recommendations and college transcripts.
“Ramona and Hope were able to make compelling cases why they both need to gain professional level fluency in Russian for their future careers using the language,” Shmakov stated. “The application process is very rigorous.”
The winning students were alerted that they were named a scholarship recipient in early March.
“It was surreal because going to Russia has been a longtime dream and I never thought it would happen.” Kline said. “I was blown away when it did.”
Ovcharenko and Kline will be housed in the city of Vladimir, Russia for an eight-week, all-expenses-paid trip. The students who were chosen had to have at least two years of prior study in the Russian language.
This will be the first time that both students have visited the country.
“I applied because I thought it would be a great experience,” Ovcharenko said. “I always wanted to be a study abroad student. It has always been a dream of mine.”
Schmakov noted that this will be a life-changing experience for the students.
“The opportunity to be immersed in Russian language, life and culture will provide them the chance to grow in ways they haven’t even imagined, she said. “They will come home with a new appreciation of the Russian people and their culture that could never be taught in a classroom.”