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CCU alumna receives prestigious State Department scholarship to study Russian language

March 7, 2019
 Hannah Hamelman, a 2018 Coastal Carolina University graduate, has been awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study the Russian language this summer at Ivane JavakhishvilHannah Hamelman attended a conference in 2018 in Tbilisi, Georgia.Hannah Hamelman, a history major with minors in political science and in languages and  intercultural studies, focused on Soviet/Russian history at CCU.

Hannah Hamelman, a 2018 Coastal Carolina University graduate, has been awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study the Russian language this summer at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students. It’s part of a government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity. CLS plays an important role in preparing students for the 21st century’s globalized workforce and increasing national competitiveness.

Hamelman, a history major with minors in political science and in languages and intercultural studies, focused on Soviet/Russian history at CCU. She studied abroad in Kazakhstan for the Spring 2018 semester and participated in a conference at Ilia State University in Tbilisi, Georgia, the following summer.

Participants in the CLS program are selected based on their commitment to language learning and plans to apply their language skills to their future academic or professional pursuits.

“Active training in the Russian language is a vital learning strategy for me if I am to become an expert in my field,” said Hamelman, who plans to pursue a career in public diplomacy. She will live with a host family in Tbilisi for 10 weeks from early June to early August 2019.

“Russia’s history, culture and traditions grabbed my attention like no other regions of the world,” said Hamelman, a native of La Paz, Bolivia, who grew up in Conway, S.C., “particularly its political and cultural importance in international relations.”

CLS awardees are fully funded to participate in intensive overseas language and cultural immersion programs in one of 15 designated critical languages, according to Gary Schmidt, professor and chair of CCU’s Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies, which offers courses in three of the designated languages: Arabic, Chinese and Russian.

“Hannah is CCU’s first award recipient of the Critical Languages Scholarship. Her experience is a great example of how CCU is focused on developing students with a global perspective,” said Darla Domke-Damonte, associate provost for global initiatives. “We celebrate her commitment to learning that promoted a successful application and the dedication of her mentors who have supported her in the process.”

The highly competitive program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. government and administered by American Councils for International Education.