Miriam Friedman turned her love of the Russian language into a unique language learning
experience. She was a 2018 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) recipient, which afforded
her the opportunity to study Russian language during the summer in Vladimir, Russia.
CLS is an intensive language learning program and recipients are expected to use their
target language in future academic studies and in their professional careers.
Originally from Stockholm, Sweden and holding dual citizenship in the United States, Miriam is a junior double majoring in International Studies and World Languages and Cultures (Russian Concentration) with a minor in Anthropology.
Miriam has worked as a Virtual Student Foreign Service e-Intern, discussing economics, politics and culture with Foreign Service Officers preparing for their service in Sweden. Her extensive global experiences have motivated her to become a U.S. Department of State Consular Officer after she attends graduate school, providing services to American citizens overseas including emergency and non-emergency assistance and issuance of visas and passports.
Her love of Russian began with coursework at USF. “Before being awarded the scholarship, I had been studying Russian language at USF for two years, and I was eager to continue learning it and exploring the culture,” says Miriam, who is now the Communications Director of the USF GloBull Ambassadors. Members of the organization share their study abroad experiences and knowledge with students who are thinking about studying abroad. They also help students prepare to study abroad by encouraging them to work with the Office of National Scholarships (ONS) on national scholarship applications.
“ONS helped me by reading through my personal statement and providing feedback, which added focus to what was important in the essay,” Miriam says. She credits ONS with helping her generate a competitive application and advises other students to focus on factors which make them unique, such as their personal background, cultural and academic interests, and why they are interested in learning a critical language.
Miriam recalled the intensity of the program and the level of dedication needed to be successful.
“My program was intensive with four hours of class and three to four hours of homework everyday, a minimum of three hours with our language partners every week, and planned weekly excursions,” she says. “This year, the program focused on the role of religion in Russian culture and history.”
Miriam encourages interested students to apply regardless of their academic standing or language learning background. “CLS wants a diverse cohort of various students at different language levels,” she explains. “If you can show that you are committed to the goals of the program, then you are deserving!”
In addition to receiving the CLS award, she accepted an offer of employment with the U.S. Department of State at the Consular Office in Astana, Kazakhstan. “Ms. Lauren Bartshe-Hanlen, Assistant Director of ONS, reviewed my application and I was offered the position,” says Miriam. “I am in the process of obtaining my security clearance.”
She plans to continue her relationship with CLS by applying to study Russian again
during summer 2019. “As an intermediate language learner, I plan to apply for the
program again,” Miriam says. “I believe CLS has challenged me greatly and improved
my Russian skills more than I could imagine.”
The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains.
Students interested in applying to the Critical Language Scholarship should contact Ms. Lauren Roberts, National Scholarship Advisor at email@example.com to schedule an advising appointment.
Miriam's story is featured in the 2019 edition of Legacies.