Two students add to Conn’s impressive record of Critical Language Scholarship winners
Connecticut College students have once again been recognized by the U.S. Department of State with the nation’s most competitive and prestigious language and study abroad scholarship.
Emily Hackett ’23 and Devon Rancourt ’21 have both won 2021 Critical Language Scholarships (CLS) to continue their studies of Russia’s language and culture.
The CLS program is part of an intensive effort by the U.S. Government to expand the number of students studying 15 world languages deemed vital to America’s security and economic standing. Students from a diverse spectrum of majors and backgrounds are encouraged to apply, and winners are viewed as young cultural ambassadors, sharing and exchanging ideas and spreading American influence and values around the world.
Hackett and Rancourt were selected from 4,600 applicants from all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; Guam; and the Northern Mariana Islands.
A Walter Commons fellow majoring in Slavic studies and international relations with a German minor, Hackett says her commitment to exploring Russia stems from her Czech family background, which initially sparked her interest in learning more about Central and Eastern Europe.
“Being a first-generation student from a working-class background, participating in this opportunity is especially important to me, as I strive to become an advocate for students' access to global opportunities,” said Hackett, who is also a scholar in the College’s Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA). “My goal is to lower barriers to international experiences for students of all backgrounds, and programs like CLS make it possible for students like me to enrich their educational journey, especially when it comes to understanding the power of language learning in transforming human interactions.”
While the program will be held virtually this summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hackett said she’s still looking forward to connecting with people remotely to expand her cultural knowledge of Russia and apply that expertise to her CISLA research project concerning historical and contemporary global education initiatives in Eastern Europe.
Rancourt, a Slavic studies and history double major who previously won a first CLS scholarship in 2019, is using the award this time to take virtual, intensive Russian classes with the KORA Russian Language Center in Vladimir, Russia.
“I’m grateful to be participating in CLS a second time because I had a very positive experience in 2019 in terms of significant language progress and the connections I made with my host family in Kyrgyzstan,” Rancourt said. “Improving my language skills is important to me because I would like to teach the Russian language in the future.”
Previous Conn students who have won CLS scholarships have gone on to win other major scholarships, including a U.S. Fulbright Student Program grant and a Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship, and have been admitted to top graduate schools, including Duke, Georgetown and Harvard. Ann Monk ’21, a 2019 CLS scholar in Arabic recently became the first student in Connecticut College’s history to receive a prestigious Marshall Scholarship, awarded by the government of the United Kingdom.
“The CLS program is a wonderful initiative promoting the study of critical languages and international exchange, and I am thrilled for Emily and Devin that they will have the opportunity to advance their Russian skills this summer,” said Amy Dooling, associate dean of global initiatives and director of the Walter Commons for Global Study and Engagement. “The fact that Camels keep winning these highly competitive awards speaks to the outstanding work our students are doing in their language classes, but also to the continuing efforts of faculty and staff to elevate global education on our campus,” she added.
The College’s Slavic Studies Department is on an impressive roll, with students studying Russian now accounting for one third of all the CLS winners from Conn to date, including Hackett and Rancourt this year.
Dashiell Hunter ’22, who was awarded a CLS last year to study Arabic in Jordan, has been named a 2021 alternate.