Undergrads earn unique foreign language fellowships

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by Ryan LeCheminant

Next school year’s Foreign Language and Area Studies scholars, FLAS, were recently announced, and will soon use their stipends to study a foreign language more intensively.

Winners were selected by BYU’s Center for the Study of Europe and Asian Studies program. Thirty recipients were selected from an applicant pool of approximately 300.

Mark Broadbent, a junior from Meridian, Idaho, said he is currently working in Poland and is especially  grateful for the financial help, as he and is his wife are expecting a baby in December.

“I know that Poland has become a recent hot-spot for businesses with its expanding market and economy,” Broadbent said. “I hope to get involved there, and I know FLAS will help me. I plan to use the extra time I will have, due to FLAS, to look for potential work opportunities either in Europe, or that utilize my ability to speak Polish.”

Recipients will receive a full-tuition scholarship for the academic year, as well as a $5,000 stipend to assist with student’s travel expenses to another country in order to study their chosen language more in depth.

Katherine Bennett, 20, from Lexington, Mass., majoring in European studies, said she was a bit surprised when she was notified she was a recipient because of how selective the process is. She said this selection is a great confidence booster and helps take some of the financial worries off her back.

“The FLAS Fellowship will give me a boost financially so that I can pursue my studies in college,” Bennett said. “This will give me the best foundation for my career goals by allowing me to study and understand not only the Italian language, but the cultural fabric as well.”

FLAS scholars include undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of majors.

McKenna Nobbs, 19, from Pittsburgh, Penn., said he is excited to save money to move to Sweden and for the ability to devote more time to his studies.

“I am very honored to be receiving the FLAS scholarship for Swedish and very excited for all the opportunities this scholarship will provide,” Nobbs said. “I have wanted to learn Swedish, Norwegian and Danish since I was a child, and now I am able to do so.”

FLAS aims to promote less commonly taught Asian and European languages. Students will study languages ranging from Polish to Indonesian, and many will travel internationally to do so.

Lora Cook, administrative director for the Center for the Study of Europe and the FLAS Coordinator, said BYU is fortunate to be one of the few universities that can award these fellowships to undergraduates because of the advanced level in which students can speak less commonly taught languages. She said the FLAS fellowship is probably the most generous award BYU students can receive, especially graduate students.

Cook said one of her greatest joys was to see the impact of awarding a student a fellowship to return to Bulgaria, where she served her mission.

“She was so excited when she heard that her award had been approved that she couldn’t keep her feet on the ground,” Cook said. “Having those kinds of experiences with students is one of the main reasons why I decided to accept this job at BYU.”

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