2 Students Win U.S. Critical Language Scholarships

Both to Spend Summer Studying Arabic Overseas in State Department Program

May 7, 2009

Two UT Dallas students were selected from more 5,400 national applicants for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) for Intensive Summer Institutes offered by the U.S. State Department.

Dina Shahrokhi, an undeclared major completing her sophomore year, and Samia Hossain, a junior international political economy major, have each won the opportunity to spend up to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes immersed in foreign countries and cultures.

The U.S. government offers the scholarships to help students study and master languages including Arabic, Indic languages, Turkic languages, Chinese, Korean, Persian, and Russian. The scholarship provides for travel, room and board and a weekly stipend.

The scholarship program is administered by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers. Students of all levels of experience can be involved in this program because they have institutes for beginners, intermediates and experts in the various languages.

Shahrokhi will study Arabic in Tangier, Morocco, for two months.  She studied Arabic in Damascus, Syria, last summer and has taken three semesters of Arabic at UT Dallas.  Her goal is to speak Arabic nearly fluently by the time she graduates in 2011.

“Winning this award is a great steppingstone toward my goals to work with Middle Eastern Affairs,” Shahrokhi said.  “My immersion in Moroccan culture will give me a very different perspective of the traditional Arab lifestyle than the experience I had in Damascus last summer, and the intensive Arabic study in a structured school environment will help me advance at an optimal pace. I am so thankful for all of the help of Dr. Douglas Dow and Dr. Edward Harpham and other UT Dallas faculty, for this will open many doors to great internship and scholarship opportunities in the future.”

Shahrokhi, a McDermott Scholar, has been active in Student Government and previously represented UT Dallas in the National Model United Nations in Washington, D.C.

Hossain, also a McDermott Scholar, worked at the World Bank as an Archer Fellow.  While there, she served as a communications consultant for the Institute Office of the Vice President.  Her studies include researching the relationship between economic development and issues of governance (i.e. rule of law, conflict and political rights in the Muslim world).  She plans to work for an economic development organization. 

“I was thrilled to receive this award because it will help me learn Arabic in the best way—through cultural immersion,” Hossain said.

After graduating, Hossain plans to enroll in a JD/master's dual degree program and study international law and international development.

“Both Dina and Samia have each shown so much drive and initiative in pursuing advanced stages of fluency in Arabic,” said Dr. Douglas Dow, an associate clinical professor of government and politics in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.  “They are both smart and disciplined, with a dedication to global careers.  I am so proud of their accomplishments.  Their success this year, which is the second year in a row one of our students has received a CLS, reflects the commitment of UT Dallas to helping ensure that our students become fluent in foreign languages, including non-European languages.”

Last year two UT Dallas students received the selective scholarship.  Stacey Knepp, a graduate student in humanities, went to Jordan to study Arabic and Molly Wurzer, an undergraduate majoring in political science, studied Arabic in Tunisia.

Media contacts: Brandon V. Webb, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected]

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Dina Shahrokhi has set a goal to speak Arabic nearly fluently by the time she graduates in 2011.  


Samia Hossain   Samia Hossain plans to work for an economic development organization.

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June 19, 2018