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Sophomore Wins a Critical Language Scholarship

Isra Hussain

By Office of News & Public Affairs |

Published: Apr. 9, 2015

Wall Street Council Presidential Scholar Isra Hussain ’17 has won a US State Department Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Urdu in India this summer.

The CLS Program seeks to broaden the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and building relationships between the people of the United States and other countries, providing study opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the United States at every level of language learning.

Hussain, a native of Lincoln, RI, is a major in psychology with a minor in Arabic Studies, and an assistant in the Office of International Students and Scholars. She and her fellow sophomores in the Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program produced a documentary on mental health issues in Boston.

“Coming to Boston College peaked my interest in the Arabic language because of the University’s emphasis on spirituality and discussion,” said Hussain, whose family is originally from Pakistan. “I realized the importance of Arabic to my Muslim identity through this formal theological education, and even decided to minor in the language. Transitioning to Urdu language studies this upcoming summer was not a random decision. Rather, by learning Arabic, I realized the value of all languages and decided I want to learn the native tongue of my Pakistani family.

“There is only so much one can understand through translations, and in order to better understand my religion and culture, I feel like it’s necessary for me to become proficient in these critical languages. My Arabic language studies will continue through my coursework at BC, and I plan to continue Urdu studies outside of the classroom.”

Hussain discussed her Critical Language Scholarship and interest in studying languages, among other topics, in an interview for the Islamic Civilizations and Societies Program website.