Side-by-side outdoor portraits of two UC Davis students named Critical Language Scholars
History graduate student Charles Sills, left, will study Arabic in Morocco, and communication major Carlie Whiteman will travel to Brazil to study Portuguese. (Courtesy photos)

State Department Names 2 College Students as ‘Critical Language Scholars’

Two UC Davis College of Letters and Science students will travel to Morocco and Brazil this summer for intensive foreign language and cultural studies as part of a U.S. Department of State program.

Charles Sills, a history doctoral student, and Carlie Whiteman, an undergraduate communication major, are among five UC Davis students selected by the State Department as 2022 Critical Language Scholars.

The highly competitive program aims to develop the next generation of scholars and professionals with mastery in 15 languages deemed critical to U.S. national security and economic prosperity. It offers eight to 10 weeks of study in countries where those languages — Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu — are commonly spoken. The program covers most of the costs of participating in its overseas institutes.

Sills, an aspiring professor of Middle Eastern history, will travel to Tangier, Morocco, for Arabic language studies. He has previously studied Arabic in Marrakech, Morocco, and Beirut, Lebanon. His doctoral research focuses on Levantine port cities during the interwar period, urbanization, and the history of capitalism.

Whiteman, who hopes to work in the wedding industry and in agricultural communications, will study Portuguese in Brazil. In addition to a communication major, they are pursuing minors in education and Luso-Brazilian studies. “As a first-generation minority student, I am proud to represent my community and identity abroad. I am beyond excited, immensely grateful, and cannot wait to explore Brazil and meet amazing people as a [Critical Language] Scholar this summer,” Whiteman said.

Previous UC Davis participants have gone on to receive other prestigious awards including the Fulbright U.S. Student program and Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship.

— Kathleen Holder, content strategist in the UC Davis College of Letters and Science, adapted this story from an article by UC Davis Prestigious Scholarships Advisor Scott Palmer.


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