Joshua Mason ’24 Receives Critical Language Scholarship

By Patrick Smith | Academic and Student Affairs News

The NC State University Fellowships Office is pleased to announce three recipients of the 2022 Critical Language Scholarship: Joshua Mason, Anthony Ramsey, and Natalya Wilson. The awardees were chosen from a pool of over 4,500 applicants from 583 different higher education institutions. 

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. Students spend eight to 10 weeks abroad studying one of 15 critical languages. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains and cultural fluency, while building relationships between people of the United States and other countries.

More than 50,000 academic and professional exchange program participants are supported annually by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Part of the bureau’s mission is to increase diversity among international educational exchange program participants and promote mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

The University Fellowships Office provides helpful assistance for students applying for the Critical Language Scholarship as well as other prestigious national and international awards. Learn more on their website.

Meet one of this year’s recipients and read what this experience means to him, in his own words:

Joshua Mason ’24 (Chinese)

Joshua Mason in a blue jacket with black tie
Joshua Mason

What is your previous experience with the Chinese language and why do you want to learn more?

I am from the Twin Cities, Minnesota, and started learning Chinese in kindergarten as I was fortunate to attend the first Chinese immersion charter public school in the United States: Yinghua Academy. I went on to continue learning Chinese in a new pilot Chinese immersion program at Highland Park Senior High as well as additional Chinese classes at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. I seek to continue learning Chinese because it has been a major part of my educational experience and continues to open amazing opportunities that are exciting.

What motivated you to apply for the Critical Languages Scholarship? And what does it mean to you to receive it?

My primary motivation to apply for the CLS scholarship was to reintroduce Chinese learning into my educational career path as a major component. I’ve had my hands tied with my computer science and economics majors and have not had the opportunity to study Chinese at NC State as I had hoped to. It means a lot to me that I will have the opportunity to be dedicating my studies to Chinese learning this summer.

What do you hope to do with your degree after graduation?

As a rising junior, I am still figuring out the finer details about my career post-graduation. One thing I know for sure is that the U.S. and China are both leaders in technology. With my computer science degree and background in Chinese, I see many opportunities to use these to work in a role that has responsibilities in both tech and U.S.-China relationship building.

Do you have any advice for students who are thinking of applying to programs like the Critical Languages Scholarship?

Go for it! Critical languages are considered critical because not enough people are learning the language. Prior language knowledge is not required for many of the languages offered. If you have an interest in one of the languages, the CLS scholarship is a resource meant to support that interest.

This is an excerpt of an article originally published by the Division of Academic and Student Affairs.