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Whitworth senior receives prestigious Critical Languages Scholarship from U.S. State Department

May 23, 2013

Whitworth senior William Pollock, an engineering physics major from Pullman, Wash., has been selected from among 5,000 applicants nationwide to receive a Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. State Department. Pollock will be studying Urdu abroad through the scholarship program this summer.

Pollock is among roughly 600 undergraduate and graduate students who have received such scholarships to study Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Indonesian, Japanese, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, or Urdu. He and his fellow scholarship recipients will spend seven to 10 weeks in intensive language institutes this summer in 14 countries where these languages are spoken. The CLS program provides fully-funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences. CLS participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and to apply their critical language skills in their professions.

“My dream is to use my engineering expertise to develop solutions for the infrastructure needs of low-income, rural communities in northern Pakistan,” he says. Pollock says he applied for the program because he saw it as a way to further his knowledge of Urdu, Pakistan’s language of commerce. His long-term goal is to live and work as an engineer in northern Pakistan.

“The natural course of learning a language is inherently interpersonal, intense, and immersive,” says Pollock. “The CLS study program imitates this natural pattern. It also provides a way for students to interact with some of the world's most influential languages and cultures in the most effective way possible: full immersion. And it creates strong global ties between students and their host families which, as, hopefully, in my case, will draw them back to live and work.”

The CLS program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Selected finalists for the 2012 CLS Program hail from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia and represent 239 institutions of higher education from across the United States, including public and private universities.

During CLS outreach activities, particular attention is paid to states/regions of the U.S. that have been historically under-represented in the CLS applicant pool and to students from diverse backgrounds and academic majors. CLS also encourages diversity in the independent review process, and includes readers and panelists from land-grant public universities, liberal arts colleges, historically black colleges and universities, institutions that serve Hispanics, Ivy League institutions, and community colleges.

CLS participants are among the more than 40,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported annually by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The program is administered by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers and American Councils for International Education.

For further information about the CLS program or other exchange programs offered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please visit and

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Leslie Root, communications officer, U.S. Department of State, (202) 833-7522 or

Lucas Beechinor, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or