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Navy, Army ROTC Students Secure Foreign Language Scholarships

Cadet, midshipman will spend summer learning
Russian, Chinese through a government language program

University of Idaho soccer player and Army ROTC Cadet Milana DesRosier was already fluent in Mandarin when she started learning Russian on her own.

Languages, like the arc on a corner kick, intrigue her.

Navy ROTC Midshipman Luke Jones intended to learn Chinese in Taiwan, but the future U.S. Marine adapted to changed plans.

Both U of I International Studies students will spend the summer learning foreign languages as part of Project GO, a language and culture training program for students enrolled in ROTC.

DeRosier will travel to the University of Pittsburgh for a two-month intensive Russian language program while Jones, who had scheduled a trip overseas, will take part in an on-line program instead.

Bill Smith of the Martin Institute, which works closely with U of I ROTC to place its cadets and midshipmen in Project GO, said having two students accepted into the prestigious language program is an anomaly.

“It is a highly competitive scholarship program,” Smith said. “It’s a big deal that we have two students chosen from the University of Idaho.”

DeRosier grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she played soccer for club teams, attended a charter school and began learning Mandarin in the seventh grade. After accepting a scholarship to play for the Vandals, DesRosier enrolled in ROTC to help pay part of her tuition. The discipline, team spirit and leadership opportunities ROTC provides align with her background as a soccer player.

“I share the values of the military,” she said. “And I wanted to learn how to take on a leadership role.”

Her interest in foreign languages and cultures prompted her to choose international studies and political science as majors. Last year she was among 10 U of I students to be awarded “freshman of the year.”

Jones, who grew up in southern California, became interested in leadership as a high school student and opted to join ROTC at the University of Idaho because of the outdoor opportunities around Moscow.

“I like to hunt and fish and there are a lot of places to do that around here,” Jones said.

He joined the Martin Institute because he wanted to study abroad and learn Chinese. When his plans to study in Taiwan fell through because of travel restrictions, he embraced the idea of an intensive online summer course through Project GO.

“When I’m through with the course, I should be proficient,” he said.

Jones, who is in his second year studying Chinese at U of I, wants to earn his commission as a second lieutenant, be an infantry platoon leader and hone management and leadership skills that could lead to owning a business after the military. He is among U of I students chosen as a “sophomore of the year.”

“I think Marines make the best leaders,” he said.

What I’m learning at U of I and through ROTC I believe will direct me to good places. Cadet Milana DesRosier

DesRosier plans to work in military intelligence. The language skills honed at U of I and Project Go will prepare her for the foreign service.

“What I’m learning at U of I and through ROTC I believe will direct me to good places,” she said.

As an arm of the government’s Defense Language and National Security Education Office, Project Go provides scholarships to improve language skills, regional expertise and intercultural communication skills of future military officers. Over the past decade Project GO has provided more than 5,600 scholarships to help officer candidates travel abroad.

Smith said foreign study opportunities and international programs at the Martin Institute help future officers overcome cultural barriers.

“Our program dovetails nicely with ROTC training,” Smith said. “The cultural context that international studies provides, along with studies in international relations, mirrors how military officers operate in foreign postings.”

In addition, the institute emphasizes practical ways to solve problems abroad at local, regional and global levels.

“It’s akin to what is taught at the War Colleges,” he said.

The intense undergraduate language and cultural training of Project Go mirrors the State Department’s Critical Language Scholarship and the Boren Scholars programs, Smith said.

“Both Luke and Milana strive for the excellence Project GO requires,” Smith said. “Participation in the program is a feather in their caps.”


Published May 2021

Article by Ralph Bartholdt, University Communications and Marketing.

Photography by University of Idaho Creative Services

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