Seventeen students at The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky at WKU have been offered nationally-competitive National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) Scholarships for immersive, critical language study this summer. This marks the 11th consecutive year for Gatton Academy students to receive the scholarship.
NSLI-Y scholarships are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, funding summer and academic year programs in which participants study critical languages.
The programs are typically carried out through immersive study abroad, with participants taking intensive language courses, living with a host family, and visiting sites of cultural significance in their host nation. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most summer 2021 programs are occurring virtually through online summer intensives. Exceptions are programs in South Korea and Taiwan, which will include the traditional study abroad immersion this summer.
Whether virtual or in-person, this summer’s participants will engage in daily language learning, cultural learning, and intercultural understanding.
The Gatton Academy is home to special language tracks in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and Russian called STEM + Critical Languages. These programs are carried out in partnership with the WKU Department of Modern Languages and the Chinese Language Flagship Program at WKU. Through these optional curricular tracks, students opt to pair progressively rigorous critical language study each semester alongside the classic STEM curriculum offered to all Gatton Academy students. Earlier this academic year, The Gatton Academy’s STEM + Critical Language program was nationally recognized by the America’s Languages Guide.
This summer’s recipients are noted below with their sending schools.
Anaya Ali (Pikeville HS)
Ali, a rising Gatton Academy senior, will continue Arabic study this summer through the virtual Center for Language and Culture program of Marrakesh, Morocco. Ali studies in the STEM + Arabic track with WKU Modern Languages. Ali said, “I applied for this scholarship as a way to help me achieve my life goal of being a polyglot!”
Christine Belance (Fairdale HS)
Belance, a Class of 2021 graduate, will continue Arabic study this summer. Belance completed the STEM + Arabic track with WKU Modern Languages. Belance said, “I plan to intertwine my desire to learn Arabic with my aspiration of becoming a forensic anthropologist in the Middle East.”
Morgan Burk (Franklin-Simpson HS)
Burk, a Class of 2021 graduate, will continue Russian study virtually this summer with American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Burk completed the STEM + Russian track with WKU Modern Languages. “I want to work in the international waste sustainability industry, and some of the most innovative waste handling technology is being developed in Russian-speaking countries,” Burk said. “I hope that my language skills can help me to be more successful in business and unite cultures.”
Sahil Chhabra (Bowling Green HS)
Chhabra, a rising Gatton Academy senior, will study Hindi virtually this summer. Asked what he anticipates, Chhabra said, “I am looking forward to meeting my fellow Hindi finalists, learning about them, and interacting with them throughout the program.”
Ty Gordon (Mercer Co. HS)
Gordon, a Class of 2021 graduate,