UM Student Awarded Critical Language Scholarship to Study Arabic in Morocco

May 05, 2015

Eamon Ormseth

MISSOULA – After he graduates this month, University of Montana senior Eamon Ormseth will spend his summer studying Arabic language and culture in Morocco.

The U.S. State Department awarded Ormseth a Critical Language Scholarship, which will fund his participation in an all-expenses-paid intensive Arabic program in Meknes, a city in northern Morocco.

Ormseth will spend several hours a day in the classroom perfecting his technical knowledge of the language, but also will have opportunities to interact with the community and immerse himself in the culture and dialects of the region. Before leaving the U.S. in June, he will participate in an orientation program in Washington, D.C.

“I'm excited to be surrounded by the Arabic language as well as Morocco's unique culture and landscape,” Ormseth said. “I hope to explore the beautiful Atlas Mountains and the rich history of Meknes."

Ormseth is a graduate of C.M. Russell High School in Great Falls. He will graduate with degrees in history and Central and Southwest Asian studies, as well as minors in Arabic studies and economics. He also was named the Mortar Board Outstanding Senior for the UM Department of History.

Following the program, Ormseth plans to extend his stay in the Middle East to work with a nongovernmental organization on education issues and continue studying Arabic and Middle Eastern history.

 “Eamon is studying Arabic to prepare for two intertwined careers in the academic world and in the world of social service,” said Laure Pengelly Drake, director of external scholarships and advising for the UM Davidson Honors College. “He will need a high level of proficiency with the different language usage of those worlds, so this in-depth program in-country presents a wonderful opportunity.”

The scholarship program is part of a U.S. government effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. It provides fully funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences to approximately 550 undergraduate and graduate students from across the country each year. Program participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers. Eighteen UM students have accepted Critical Language Scholarships since the program’s inception in 2006.

For more information call Drake at 406-243-6140 or email

Contact: Laure Pengelly Drake, director of external scholarships and advising, UM Davidson Honors College, 406-243-6140,