UMW Graduate Receives State Department Scholarship

Marissa S. Allison, a 2010 University of Mary Washington graduate, will travel to Oman this summer to study Arabic on a U.S. Department of State scholarship as part of a federal government effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans mastering critically needed languages.

The Spotsylvania County resident will leave June 12 to spend nine weeks at the intensive summer language institute in Muscat, Oman, located on the Arabian Peninsula. A history and Middle Eastern studies major, Allison is among 575 undergraduate and graduate students chosen in 2010 to study critical-need languages in 15 countries where the languages are spoken.

Allison was selected for a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) from 5,300 applicants through a merit-based selection process. The Department of State launched the CLS program in 2006 to increase opportunities for American students to study critical-need languages overseas.

The daughter of Dr. Fred H. Allison and Martha L. Allison of Spotsylvania County, she is a 2006 graduate of Courtland High School. While attending Mary Washington, she participated in study abroad programs in Costa Rica, Jordan and Egypt. She also served as an Arabic media research intern with the global intelligence network Stirling-Assynt, a research intern at the Palestine-Israel Journal in Jerusalem, and in a Baghdad Embassy virtual internship. A magna cum laude graduate from UMW, she has been named to the Dean’s List and has received honors with the Virginia Social Sciences Association for an undergraduate paper and student presentation.

CLS Program participants are among the more than 40,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported annually by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The CLS Program is administered by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers and the American Councils for International Education.

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