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Office of News & Public Affairs

BC Undergraduate, Law Student Are Awarded
U.S. State Dept. Critical Language Scholarships

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (March 2013)Presidential Scholar Andrew Babbitt ’15 and Boston College Law School student Benjamin Barkley have been awarded U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarships for intensive foreign language study abroad this summer.

Andrew Babbitt
Andrew Babbitt

More than 4,900 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students applied for the 2013 Critical Language Scholarships (CLS). Babbitt and Barkley are two of approximately 600 winners, representing more than 200 institutions of higher education. The CLS recipients will spend the summer overseas in structured cultural enrichment experiences mastering one of 13 critical languages: Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangladesh, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, or Urdu. CLS Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

Babbitt will study Chinese at Suzhou University in China and Barkley will study Russian at the Kazan Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities in Russia.

A math major in BC’s pre-med program, Babbitt is interested in a career in international public health and sees the benefit of combining his interests in medicine and Chinese.

“I first took Chinese in high school and was lucky enough to travel to China on a cultural exchange trip sponsored by the Chinese government after my sophomore year. Since then, I have loved the language and culture,” said Babbitt, who is from Hampden, Me.

Benjamin Barkley
Benjamin Barkley

Babbitt has continued his Chinese studies at Boston College, hoping to complete a minor in Chinese. Last summer, he interned for a month at the Shanghai United Family Hospital.

For Barkley, the trip to Kazan is a bit of a homecoming. As a young child, he lived in Kazan for a year with his parents, who were part of an NGO. He attended kindergarten in Kazan, where he first learned to speak Russian. His family then spent another four or so years in Ufa, Russia.

Barkley’s program at Kazan involves intensive group-centered language lessons for 20 hours a week as well as regular cultural excursions and activities. “I plan on using this opportunity to practice my Russian and become further acquainted with Russian culture. In my spare time I plan to seek out opportunities to work with local businesses or volunteer organizations to get to know the community better. I also hope to reconnect with the woman who practically adopted my family and became my Russian ‘grandmother’ while we were living there.”

Barkley’s return to Russia has been a long journey. After his time in Russia as a youngster, he and his family lived in Belgium for four years, where his parents continued their work assisting refugees. His family then moved to Texas, where Barkley finished high school. He continued Russian language studies in high school and eventually enrolled in the University of Texas at San Antonio. During college, Barkley had hoped to study overseas and had made plans to join the Peace Corps, but the discovery of a brain tumor put an end to such plans, and he underwent surgery and radiation.

Though occasional headaches, light sensitivity and regular medication are reminders of his ordeal, Barkley is ready to take on the “exciting” opportunity to study in Russia.

After law school, Barkley wants to pursue a career with the State Department as a foreign service officer.  

The Critical Language Scholarships for Intensive Summer Institutes is a program of the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Selection is administered by American Councils for International Education. The CLS Program is administered by American Councils and The Ohio State University/Ohio University.

—Kathleen Sullivan is a senior media relations officer in the Office of News & Public Affairs;