Record 18 Gatton Academy students awarded U.S. Department of State language scholarships
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Eighteen 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 County HS)
Gordon, a Class of 2021 graduate, will continue Russian study virtually this summer with the College of Narva, Estonia. Gordon completed the STEM + Russian track with WKU Modern Languages. “I am fascinated by Russian history, culture, and language,” Gordon said. “It is my goal to become fluent in Russian and visit Russia someday.”
Brooke Haden (North Oldham HS)
Haden, a rising senior, will continue Russian study through the virtual summer intensive hosted through Learn Russian in the EU in Daugavpils, Latvia. Haden studies in the STEM + Russian track with WKU Modern Languages. “I’m most looking forward to really being able to understand another country’s culture—especially an eastern European Slavic country. I can’t wait to learn this firsthand,” Haden said.
Laura Hanna (Hazard HS)
Hanna, a Class of 2021 graduate, will continue Arabic study virtually this summer with AMIDEAST. Hanna completed the STEM + Arabic track with WKU Modern Languages. Hanna said, “I am excited to make friends with my classmates from all across the country!”
Emma Harris (Hickman County HS)
Harris, a rising senior, will continue Chinese study, traveling to the NSLI-Y program in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Harris studies in the STEM + Chinese track with WKU’s Chinese Flagship program. “In studying Chinese through NSLI-Y, I most look forward to being immersed in a different culture and interacting with people of varying beliefs and lifestyles,” Harris said of her upcoming study abroad.
Krupa Hegde (Larry A. Ryle HS)
Hegde, a Class of 2021 graduate, was offered the NSLI-Y Turkish virtual program. Hegde participated in the virtual NSLI-Y Turkish program in summer 2020 and reapplied with the hopes to travel to Turkey this summer. “I was most looking forward to practicing my Turkish skills while also meeting peers from across the globe,” Hegde said.
Jada Hunter-Hays (LaRue County HS)
Hunter-Hays, a Class of 2021 graduate, will continue Chinese study, traveling to the NSLI-Y program in New Taipei City, Taiwan. Hunter-Hays completed the STEM + Chinese track with WKU Modern Languages. “I am passionate about engineering and Chinese and would like to work overseas in East Asia,” Hunter-Hays said. “The technology world is booming and NSLI-Y will help me to become more versatile in my career.”
Elizabeth Mikeworth (Rockcastle County HS)
Mikeworth, a rising senior, will continue Chinese study through the virtual Lanzhou, China program. Mikeworth studies in the STEM + Chinese track with WKU’s Chinese Flagship program. “Ever since I was a kid, I have had the dream to become an ESL teacher,” Mikeworth said. “Advancing my Mandarin Chinese through the NSLI-Y program gives me an opportunity to proceed with that goal!”
Kharley Redmon (Daviess County HS)
Redmon, a Class of 2021 graduate, declined the Arabic Virtual Summer Institute program in order to participate in the University of Mississippi’s Arabic Flagship program’s summer intensive program. Redmon completed the STEM + Arabic track with WKU Modern Languages. “I want to be an international journalist with a concentration in reporting in the Middle East and North Africa,” Redmon said. “Knowing Arabic will allow me to communicate and get insights that many journalists could not.”
Seren Semrau (South Oldham HS)
Semrau, a rising senior, will continue Chinese study through the virtual Lanzhou, China program. Semrau studies in the STEM + Chinese track with WKU’s Chinese Flagship program. “I’m looking forward to meeting new people and bettering my pronunciation and vocabulary,” Semrau said.
Emma Stone (Mason County HS)
Stone, a rising senior, will continue Russian study through the virtual summer intensive based in Kyrgyzstan. Stone studies in the STEM + Russian track with WKU Modern Languages. “I can’t wait to take my language learning down a more serious and dedicated route this summer as a participant of the NSLI-Y program,” Stone said.
Lauren Taylor (Campbell County HS)
Taylor, a Class of 2021 graduate, was offered the NSLI-Y Arabic through the virtual Rabat, Morocco program. Taylor completed the STEM + Arabic track with WKU Modern Languages. “The Atlas Mountains contain species not found anywhere else on Earth,” Taylor said of the intersection of her career and language interests. “I hope to work with local Arabic speakers there to preserve this unique environment.”
Audrey Thacker (Eastern HS)
Thacker, a Class of 2021 graduate, will continue Chinese study through a virtual NSLI-Y. Thacker completed the STEM + Chinese track with WKU Modern Languages. Thacker said, “I can’t wait to know enough of the language to be able to talk to my Chinese aunt and play card games with her.”
Satya Vangoor (North Oldham HS)
Vangoor, a rising senior, will study Hindi virtually. Asked what she anticipates, Vangoor said, “I’m really looking forward to having an immersive cultural learning experience, compared to the traditional classroom setting for the other languages I’ve learned.”
Brendan White (Central Hardin HS)
White, a rising senior, was offered the virtual NSLI-Y Russian. White studies in the STEM + Russian track with WKU Modern Languages. “Participating in the program will help me practice Russian and get to know the culture more,” White said.
Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential two-year program for gifted and talented high school students. The Gatton Academy’s students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers. The Gatton Academy has been named to Jay Mathews’ list of top-performing schools with elite students for eleven consecutive appearances and received the National Consortium for Secondary STEM School’s Innovation Partnership Award.