UM Students Win Critical Language Scholarships for Immersion Summer Study

April 19, 2018

Margaret GraysonMISSOULA – University of Montana students Margaret Grayson and Megan Murdoch won State Department Critical Language Scholarships in the 2018 national competition for immersive in-country summer language study. The scholarship provides full funding for the program, which runs from mid-June to mid-August and includes an orientation in Washington, D.C.

Grayson, is a senior at UM majoring in journalism. She is the daughter of Paul Grayson and graduated from Bayfield High School of Bayfield, Colorado, in 2014. Grayson wants to pursue a career in international journalism. She will study in India.

“I see India as a massive emerging market for news reporting that will be increasingly important to the American and global public,” Grayson said. “Many stories and problems in India, the world’s largest democracy, echo those of the United States. There is so much we have to learn from each other, and as the world becomes increasingly globalized it’s important for us to have a better understanding of such a large segment of the world.”

For more details on Grayson’s award, see stories from the South and Southeast Asian Studies program online at and

Megan MurdochMurdoch is earning majors in Central Southwest Asia Studies and forensic anthropology with a minor in Arabic. She graduated from Sheridan High School in Sheridan, Wyoming, in 2015 and plans to graduate from UM in 2020. Her parents are Robert and Severine Murdoch of Dubois, Wyoming.

Murdoch’s intensive Arabic language program this summer will be held in Meknes, Morocco. She is excited to further her modern standard Arabic and to learn the local Darija dialect while staying with a host family.

“I applied to CLS because it presents an incredible opportunity to gain fluency through formal classes and immersion,” she said. “My attraction to Arabic is driven by the dichotomy of its pervasiveness in the modern world juxtaposed with the general lack of knowledge and strong biases on all sides. I am interested in cutting through this barrier, bridging the divide and helping to facilitate greater cross-cultural understanding.”

Ethan Holmes, a UM student studying Russian, earned placement as an alternate for the program.

The Critical Language Scholarship 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.

CLS is part of a wider government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity. CLS plays an important role in preparing students for the 21st century’s globalized workforce and increasing national competitiveness.

The Critical Language Scholarship Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It is supported in its implementation by American Councils for International Education.

For more information on the program, visit


Contact: Laure Pengelly Drake, coordinator, UM Writing Center programs, external scholarships and advising, 406-243-6140,; Margaret Grayson, scholarship recipient, 970-317-3571,; Megan Murdoch, scholarship recipient, 307-763-1365,