Senior receives Critical Language Scholarship from the State Department

Claire ConwaySPU SENIOR Claire Conway is one of just 700 students this year to receive a coveted U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship, a program designed to increase the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages.

Ordinarily, Conway would have traveled to Turkey to immerse herself in the language. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the program instead offered eight weeks of daily online Turkish classes through Ankara University, conducted over Zoom.

“It was fun, but intense,” Conway said. “I was a total beginner in a class where we were not allowed to use any English.”

Conway’s French professor at SPU had no doubts about her aptitude.

“Claire is the finest student of French that I have had in my nearly 30-plus years of teaching French at the college level,” said Michelle Beauclair. “She had not taken French before being placed in a Belgian high school for Rotary. She came to campus more advanced and proficient than any student I have had who was not raised in France.”

Prior to the Department of State scholarship, Conway worked with a Turkish refugee group seeking asylum in France to help craft their application letters to French authorities, whetting her interest in learning Turkish.

Conway — also a singer, guitarist, and songwriter who released an album this past spring — applied for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship for the 2022–23 school year, either in France or in Turkey, to pursue her passions for teaching and cultural exchange.

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