Insights on Applying for a Prestigious Scholarship

Honors students interested in learning a foreign language should definitely consider The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program. It is a fully funded summer international language and cultural immersion program for U.S. college students. The goal of the program is to broaden the base of Americans studying critical languages ( there are 14 language programs currently available) and building relationships between the United States and other countries. Formal classroom language instruction is provided for 20 hours per week, and there are extracurricular and cultural activities to supplement the formal curriculum to help students learn more about the history, politics, culture and daily life of the host country.

I decided to apply for the Korean program on the intermediate level. The most difficult part of the application was the essays because of the small word count limits. Through these essays, the applicants should convey their dedication to learning the target language and how they plan to use the language in their future career. It was hard expressing everything I wanted to say in the limited amount of space.

My advice for future applicants would be to start the application as soon as possible and to submit the application a few days before the deadline. The application site is known to crash multiple times on the due date due to a high volume of traffic on the site. Additionally, the essays take some time to write, and you should have multiple people read over them to make sure there are no errors!

In the future, I hope to work in South Korea, which is why I have been pursuing learning the Korean language. I began taking Korean lessons at the University of Pittsburgh because my dad is originally from South Korea and I like Korean music and dramas. Having knowledge of a second language is also very valuable in the business environment. As I learned more of the language, I learned more about the culture and my interest in South Korea grew. I started to look for opportunities to travel to the country. While I was researching scholarships and study abroad trips to Korea, I found the Critical Language Scholarship Program and read about other students that have received the scholarship in the past.

If I were to receive a CLS, I would be able to improve my fluency of Korean. I would also be able to travel to South Korea for the first time and learn more about the culture. For my Honors Thesis I am studying Korean pop culture, so I would be able to see some of this first hand and I would also learn about different aspects of the culture that I have not previously researched.

Written by: Jessica Chin

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Tess Barry: Professor, Poet, and Professional Optimist

In a world filled with darkness, finding light and happiness can be difficult. Society has become disheartened and cynical. However, people like Professor Tess Barry manage to find the light in things and share this light with other people.

A professor in the English department, Prof. Barry recently submitted poetry in the Manchester Writing Competition, a concourse that includes fifty countries and tens of thousands of submissions, and a competition she nearly won. “They said it was between me and one other person… I was close, but I didn’t get it.”

The Manchester Writing Competition is not the only notch on Prof. Barry’s poetry scorecard. Prof. Barry, a writer since childhood, has been a finalist for North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize (twice), received Aesthetica’s Poetry Award, and was shortlisted for the 2014 Bridport Poetry Prize. Her poems frequently appear in the North American Review.

I asked Prof. Barry, “How would you describe your personality as a writer?” She responded,“Human. Praising and assuring of goodness and beauty. My work is… hopeful and life-affirming. Poetry doesn’t have to be true, but there is truth in it. There is vulnerability as well.”

Prof. Barry describes her feelings regarding her five shortlisted (or being put on a list of selected candidates from which a final choice is made) poems being displayed on an international scale. “It was terrifying. I was naked, and more than anything I wanted to honor my parents. They were my inspiration.”

Prof. Barry explains this outlook developed during her childhood. She grew up in western Pennsylvania, and she was a member of a family of ten. She claims her parents never complained, worked hard, and were always faithful, and they instilled their values into their children. Prof. Barry was raised in a Catholic household which caused her to “think critically, respect tradition, have a strong sense of right and wrong, and have a positive outlook and understanding. I can’t imagine moving in the world without believing in God. The world is missing faith.” Each family member had a grand appreciation for nature and art, especially her mother. Prof. Barry recalls her mother’s favorite poets being Robert Frost and Emily Dickens and her mother’s responsiveness to aesthetics being ekphfrastic.

“The best writers are readers,”  Prof. Barry explains as she elaborates on her mother reading to her and her siblings when they were young. “I was given a gift. It is my gift to [be able to] write poetry.”Prof. Barry certainly lives up to her gift and her parents as well. She explains, despite her initial apprehension, the vulnerability felt good. “Poetry, like everything in life, is subjective.”

Prof. Barry has traveled all over the world to diversify her writing. She identifies her favorite poets as Shamus Haning and Dame Carol Ann Duffey. She has two step children who have children of their own. She enjoys spending time with them, cooking and eating dinner with her husband, running (until a recent meniscus tear), and, of course, reading. She considers herself lucky and blessed to be at Robert Morris University, for which she has a good time teaching, and feels very connected to the RMU community, and cannot wait to see the students capitalize on their potential!

Written by: Anna Hartwell