The United States Department of State granted Kathleen Salter ’19 a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Chinese this summer.

The CLS Program’s objective is to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Salter is one of approximately 560 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who received a CLS scholarship in 2016.

“An accomplished linguist with strong interpersonal skills and a passion for the Chinese language, Kathleen is among the highest performing students in my class,” said Fontaine Lien, Ph.D., assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures. “Already possessing a solid foundation in Chinese, Kathleen will benefit tremendously from the CLS Program, where she will acquire skills and competencies to contribute significantly to her future profession.”

During the past 10 years, the CLS Program has sent more than 5,000 American undergraduate and graduate students overseas to learn critical languages around the world. It provides fully funded, group-based intensive language instruction and extensive cultural enrichment experiences in 14 critical need languages.

“I was elated and honored to receive a Critical Language Scholarship, allowing me to follow my dream of learning Chinese,” Salter said. “During high school, I traveled to China with the foreign exchange student my family hosted. Through this experience, I became invested in the Chinese language and culture, and it inspired me to pursue this opportunity.”

This June, Salter departed for Xi’an, China, where she is spending eight weeks studying Chinese at Shaanxi Normal University. The courses are rigorous, compressing one-year instruction in Chinese into a 20-credit-hour summer course.

Salter is an electrical engineering major with a minor in Chinese, whose participation in Valpo’s International Engineering Program (VIEP) will take her back to China in her seventh semester to participate in a Study Abroad program in Hangzhou, China on the campus of Zheijang University. The VIEP in China program follows this semester with a research project conducted at a Chinese University or an internship with a Chinese company based in China or within the U.S. the next semester and ensuing summer.

“I am tremendously grateful to Valpo for being the type of school that not only allows but encourages its students to study a wide variety of subjects,” Salter said. “At Valpo, I have been granted the opportunity to pursue my goals and ambitions. Without its supportive environment, I am convinced I would never have been able to study Chinese and electrical engineering simultaneously.”

Exchange programs like the CLS Program build relations and respect between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries. CLS Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

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