University of Vermont

University Communications

Three UVM Students Awarded Critical Language Scholarships

Senior Sammie Ibrahim, junior Cecila Baker and sophomore Tilden Remerleitch
From left: senior Sammie Ibrahim, junior Cecila Baker and sophomore Tilden Remerleitch.

Three UVM students — senior Sammie Ibrahim, junior Cecilia Baker and sophomore Tilden Remerleitch — are among the winners of the 2016 Critical Language Scholarships, the competitive U.S. State Department awards that fully fund students’ participation in intensive language instruction for seven to 10 weeks overseas.

Now in its 10th year, the Critical Language Scholarship program is one component of the U.S. government’s effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical-need foreign languages, including, but not limited to, Russian, Arabic, Mandarin, Swahili, Persian, Turkish, Hindi, Urdu, and Bangla. Participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

Ibrahim, a senior geography major from Little Rock, Arkansas, will study advanced Russian in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Her desire to better her Russian language skills stems from her academic interests in the cultural, political and urban transformations throughout the post-Soviet world, particularly in Central Asia, where Russian remains the de facto lingua franca. Also a Boren scholarship recipient, Ibrahim studied abroad in Kygrystan her junior year and looks forward to continuing to study of Russian at an even higher level, which will be valuable to her future doctoral studies and research.  

Baker, a junior business major from Waterbury, Vermont, with a minor in Chinese, is looking forward to studying intermediate Mandarin in Changchun, China. “I fell in love with China when I visited for two weeks with my parents the summer before I came to UVM,” says Baker, who plans eventually to work in China. She hopes that this summer’s intensive language study and cultural immersion will prepare her to return to UVM and utilize her Mandarin as she interviews Chinese and other international students to collect data for her senior thesis on international students, cultural adjustments and educational practices.

For Remerleitch, a sophomore from Guilford, Vermont, planning to study advanced-low Mandarin in Dalian City, China, the scholarship is “an opportunity for intensive studying of Chinese, participating in cultural activities, building new relationship with people from our host university, and functioning day-to-day in Mandarin.” Bilingual in Spanish and English, Remerleitch first studied Mandarin in Shanghai during a pre-college gap-year through the State Department-funded National Security Language Initiative for Youth. She cites both Ying Hu, Chinese lecturer at UVM, and Pablo Bose, associate professor of geography, for providing outstanding encouragement and support throughout her academic and scholarship pursuits. Remerleitch is interested international emergency preparedness, conducting research, and doing prevention planning on issues stemming from urban and rural social transformation, climate change and globalization.

Students interested in learning about the Critical Language Scholarship and other competitive awards are encouraged to contact the Office of Fellowships Advising at

Learn more about the Critical Language Scholarship program: