Language Study Unlocks Door to Future Career  

Samuel RamtinBy Samuel Ramtin
Graduate Student
Political science M.A.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) is a language learning program funded by the U.S. government to expand the number of Americans studying languages critical to U.S. national security and foreign policy. It is a competitive study abroad program, with only 10% of applicants ultimately admitted.

Though the pandemic has made this a remote program for the time being, without sacrificing any of the intensity and rigor of coursework, this summer 2021 I have the privilege of participating in the CLS Arabic program, through the Arab American Language Institute in Morocco (AALIM).

I am proud to have attained this, as it undoubtedly will propel my professional goals of working in foreign affairs, and also to represent San Diego State University. I will be the 18th Aztec to participate in this prestigious program since its inception and I am honored to continue this tradition of excellence. This was a long process, however, and not without its challenges, obstacles, and failures. 

We regret to inform you.” It is those opening words which cause a student’s heart to drop, the culmination of their hard work and hopeful optimism crashing into an unexpected reality. This past application cycle was my third attempt at CLS, having applied once during my undergraduate career and once more at the start of my graduate studies.

I was determined to study Arabic, and to work in a career which utilized that linguistic skill along with my established Persian fluency. I have long-wanted to serve as a peacemaker and bridge builder between the United States and the Middle East.

Language learning unlocks so many doors, so many stories, and offers new ways for us to empathize with others. Aside from our own campus, which proudly hosts thousands of international students each year, there are many organizations in San Diego County that offer service opportunities. For example, at the International Rescue Committee office in San Diego, where I interned as an undergraduate, there is always a need for foreign language students.

The world looks closed right now, and learning a language in such an environment may seem moot, but it will not stay closed. I for one want to be ready when it reopens. I hope to cultivate a connection with both the AALIM and my American cohort. I plan on visiting Morocco in the fall, along with other countries in the Arab World, equipped with the indispensable ability to communicate with new peoples and cultures.

Language is what makes us human, and I eagerly anticipate serving as a conduit for rich conversation.

As graduation nears, I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. As we continue to represent this university with pride, I hope to encounter my fellow Aztecs on this journey.