Samuel McKnight, a sophomore from Charlotte, North Carolina, has been awarded a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Russian language this summer in Vladimir, Russia. He is the first Roanoke College student to receive this competitive award. McKnight is majoring in international relations, with a minor in religious studies. He is a member of the Roanoke College Honors program. He serves as a fellow at the Benne Center for Religion and Society, works as a lead guide for the Outdoor Adventures program and is a member of Maroon Baptist Fellowship.
"CLS is an amazing program that provides an experience that no classroom ever can," Jenny Rosti, director of major scholarships and fellowships, said. "Samuel will be living with a Russian family and has to sign a language pledge that he will speak only Russian while in this program. It is a grueling program with intensive classes for part of each day followed by group cultural experiences. Samuel will come back speaking like a native."
McKnight credits several of his professors for helping him achieve this goal.
"I am deeply grateful for the tireless help of Jenny Rosti in the Office of Major Scholarships," McKnight said. "She cares deeply about her students and inspires us to succeed. I would not have received this award without her help, her advice, her encouragement, and, at times, a tough shove from her in the right direction."
"Dr. Munsey, my Russian professor, has been unceasingly encouraging to me," McKnight said.
"I am so very excited about Sam winning the CLS, because he is absolutely worthy of this award," Dr. Tatyana Munsey said. "From the moment I first met him two years ago as a prospective student until the Russian class last night, he keeps expressing his high motivation and deep interest in Russian language and culture. His persistence and positive attitude to all the challenges and difficulties of Russian grammar have been deservedly recognized. I consider this award not only as a great opportunity, but also as a great challenge (especially in a current political situation between the two countries), and a great mission."
CLS is a competitive intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American college students and graduate students. CLS is administered by the U.S. Department of State as part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages critical to national security and economic prosperity. Fourteen languages have been identified as part of this effort.