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Two U of I Students Awarded a Critical Language Scholarship

April 15, 2022

MOSCOW, Idaho — April 15, 2022 — Two University of Idaho students will receive Critical Language Scholarships to study foreign languages overseas through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Natalie Mesplay, a graduating senior and Honors Program student majoring in international studies and history, will study Korean at the Chonham National University in Gwangju, South Korea. A Boise native, Natalie was also the recipient of ASUI’s Award for Excellence and served as a head delegate for the university’s Model United Nations program. She also served as the president for the Kiva Club and, as a Martin-McClure ambassador, served as a legislative public policy intern.

Brock Keller, a junior from Pocatello majoring in international studies and environmental studies, will take part in a Hindi language program at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Jaipur, India. Keller has spent time overseas as a student and volunteer in Central America, South America, Europe and Africa. He speaks French and Spanish fluently and is competent in Czech.

"The Critical Language Scholarship is an exceptionally competitive program with an acceptance rate of less than 10%,” said Erin Kimball Damman, faculty fellow for the Distinguished Scholarships Program. “Our last CLS winner was in 2019, so for us to have two students accepted to the program is extraordinary.”

The CLS Program provides opportunities to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to ten weeks studying one of 15 critical languages including Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish or Urdu. CLS scholars are expected to apply their critical language skills in future careers.

Media Contact

Erin Kimball Damman
Faculty Fellow Distinguished Scholarships Program
University Honors Program

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The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at


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