Critical Language Scholarship Program | 2022 Alumni Ambassador Year…

2022 Alumni Ambassador Year in Review

In 2022, Alumni Ambassadors brought enthusiasm, expertise, and generosity of time to their roles supporting the CLS Program and promoting language study in their communities. We are always grateful to Alumni Ambassadors for their commitment to the program and enjoy preparing this overview of accomplishments at the end of each year.


In January, 22 alumni of the 2021 program became new Alumni Ambassadors for 2022. They came from 15 U.S. states and had attended or were currently attending 33 different higher education institutions, including four community colleges. They represented a diversity of personal experiences, identities, and backgrounds, and many studied in fields that are underrepresented in language-focused study abroad. We were pleased to welcome back two alumni who had served as 2021 Alumni Ambassadors, participated in the CLS Program again in 2021, and were excited to serve as Ambassadors for a second year.

In mid-January, Alumni Ambassadors joined the CLS Alumni Engagement Officer for an introductory meeting to get to know each other and hear more about their roles for the year.

In early March, ten of the new Alumni Ambassadors served as panelists to discuss their experiences in the 2021 CLS Virtual and in-person Institutes in an event for finalists and alternates of the 2022 program.

  • Cynthia Johnson (Korean 2021), Vanessa Rogers-Wright (Korean 2021), and Jayden Thomas (Japanese 2019, 2021) spoke to finalists who would be studying at institutes abroad in summer 2022 about their experiences on the program overseas.
  • Max Courval (Portuguese 2020, 2021), Alexandra Dionisi (Indonesian 2020, 2021), Abigail Hawkins (Arabic 2020, 2021), Manmeet Pelia (Punjabi 2021), Sam Ramtin (Arabic 2021), Abdul Sanderson (Russian 2021), and Bridget Seghers (Swahili 2021) discussed the rewards and challenges of the program and how participating in CLS virtually or in-person was an intensive experience that exceeded their expectations.


Deputy Assistant Secretary Ethan Rosenzweig takes a selfie with Alumni Ambassadors

On March 31 and April 1, 2022, the CLS Program hosted the Alumni Ambassador Forum in Washington, DC, the first in-person event since before the pandemic. The twelfth-annual Alumni Ambassador Forum began with a visit from Ethan Rosenzweig, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs at the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Over the course of the two-day event, Alumni Ambassadors networked with CLS Program staff, representatives of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and each other during the event. They learned key components of serving as representatives of the program and enjoyed hands-on workshops on a variety of topics. 

Max Courval (Portuguese 2020, 2021) participated virtually in the NAFSA Day of Action where he met with Utah Congressman John Curtis and the Office of Utah Senator Mitt Romney to advocate for continued funding for exchange programs like the Critical Language Scholarship, Fulbright, Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, and more, as well as advocating for support for facilitating international student exchange in the United States.

In April, Manmeet Pelia (Punjabi 2021) attended the Phi Theta Kappa annual conference in Denver, CO to speak to students during the opportunity fair about the CLS Program.

In April and May, Alumni Ambassadors joined CLS staff members to support all fifteen of the virtual outreach sessions to speak to applicants of the inaugural CLS Spark program.Abdul Sanderson (Russian 2021), Nayla Huq (Indonesian 2021), Aditya Namjoshi (Urdu 2021), Alexandra DeLellis (Russian 2021), Abby Hawkins (Arabic 2020, 2021), Sam Ramtin (Arabic 2021), Eliza Corpuz (Chinese 2021), Xavier Evans (Chinese 2021), Max Courval (Portuguese 2020, 2021), Sarah Schlosser (Hindi 2021), and Alexandra Dionisi (Indonesian 2020, 2021) all shared their perspectives and advice with applicants as alumni of virtual CLS programs.


Several Alumni Ambassadors shared their experiences with new students during the pre-program orientations in June. Max Courval (Portuguese 2020, 2021), Alexandra DeLellis (Russian 2021), Sam Ramtin (Arabic 2021), Vanessa Rogers-Wright (Korean 2021), and Sarah Schlosser (Hindi 2021), along with several other CLS alumni, spoke at pre-program coffee chats in collaboration with CLS Program Officers.

During the spring pre-program period, Alumni Ambassadors facilitated a series of affinity groups to build community among CLS scholars across languages. Groups met online and included:

  • A group for students identifying as Black, indigenous or persons of color (BIPOC students), led by Cynthia Johnson (Korean 2021) and Abdul Sanderson (Russian 2021);
  • A group for first-generation students led by Alexandra Dionisi (Indonesian 2020, 2021), Isabel Miramontes (Arabic 2021), and Bridget Seghers (Swahili 2021);
  • A group for heritage speakers led by Alexandra DeLellis (Russian 2021), Aditya Namjoshi (Urdu 2021), and Sam Ramtin (Arabic 2021);
  • A group for students identifying as LGBTQIA+ led by Max Courval (Portuguese 2020, 2021), Xavier Evans (Chinese 2021), and Cynthia Johnson (Korean 2021);
  • A group for students to talk about the intersection of music and culture led by Francesca Bagala (Russian 2021), Xavier Evans (Chinese 2021), Nayla Huq (Indonesian 2021), and Aditya Namjoshi (Urdu 2021); and
  • A group for students with disabilities and/or chronic illness led by Abigail Hawkins (Arabic 2020, 2021) and Sarah Schlosser (Hindi 2021).
Max Courval (Portuguese 2020, 2021) visits the 2022 CLS Portuguese cohort

During his summer in Brazil, Max Courval (Portguese 2020, 2021) visited with the CLS Portuguese institute and participated in an excursion with them.


In October and November, Alumni Ambassadors engaged in a variety of virtual outreach activities to help recruit and support applicants. With this year’s recruitment of both the CLS Program and CLS Spark taking place simultaneously, Alumni Ambassadors were particularly helpful.

Alumni Ambassadors worked with CLS staff to enrich the following recruitment activities:

  • Throughout October and early November, Alumni Ambassadors joined various CLS staff members on virtual general information sessions about the CLS Program and CLS Spark. Eliza Corpuz (Chinese 2021), Max Courval (Portuguese 2020, 2021), Alexandra Dionisi (Indonesian 2020, 2021), Nayla Huq (Indonesian 2021), Isabel Miramontes (Arabic 2021), Aditya Namjoshi (Urdu 2021), Manmeet Pelia (Punjabi 2021), Sam Ramtin (Arabic 2021), Abdul Sanderson (Russian 2021), and Jayden Thomas (Japanese 2019, 2021) all told their stories and gave advice to applicants during these general information sessions.
  • In addition to the general information sessions, Bridget Seghers (Swahili 2021) spoke at an information session specifically for students applying to study their target language at the beginner level.
  • Alumni Ambassadors also joined language-specific information sessions with CLS staff. Eliza Corpuz (Chinese 2021), Max Courval (Portuguese 2020, 2021), Nayla Huq (Indonesian 2021), Isabel Miramontes (Arabic 2021), Lauren Palmieri (Turkish 2021), Mushfequr Rahman (Urdu 2021), Vanessa Rogers-Wright (Korean 2021), Abdul Sanderson (Russian 2021), Bridget Seghers (Swahili 2021), and Jayden Thomas (Japanese 2019, 2021) spoke at the information sessions that corresponded with their CLS languages.
  • Alexandra Dionisi (Indonesian 2021), Xavier Evans (Chinese 2021), Abdul Sanderson (Russian 2021), and Bridget Seghers (Swahili 2021) spoke on a panel moderated by CLS staff members about how they prepared successful applications for the CLS Program coming from fields of study that are underrepresented in intensive language programs.

Alumni Ambassadors also held and participated in independently organized recruitment activities including:

  • Max Courval (Portuguese 2020, 2021) hosted a CLS information session for the University of Utah Learning Abroad fair, where he is a peer advisor in the Learning Abroad Office.
  • Max Courval (Portuguese 2020, 2021) and Bridget Seghers (Swahili 2021) joined CLS Communications Officer Rori DiFiore for virtual classroom visits at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Max Courval (Portuguese 2020, 2021) joined CLS Program Officers Carolyn Arena and Caitlyn Carpio (Chinese 2016) to lead a workshop for current CLS Spark participants on federally-funded study abroad program application tips.

Eliza Corpuz (Chinese 2021) represented the CLS Program at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and University (HACU) Conference in San Diego, CA in October.

Xavier Evans (Chinese 2021), Aditya Namjoshi (Urdu 2021), and Manmeet Pelia (Punjabi 2021) attended the virtual Diversity Abroad Global Student Leadership Summit in November, where they attended panels and discussions about inclusion, identity, and diversity in study abroad and networked with students and professionals.

Abdul Sanderson (Russian 2021) joined Program Officer Jay Ritch to represent the CLS Program at the ACTFL Conference in Boston, MA in November.

Isabel Miramontes (Arabic 2021) spoke on a panel titled, “Choosing the Exchange Program that is Right For You” at a Fulbright Latinx conference hosted at Miami Dade College in Miami, FL.

Posted Date

December 30, 2022

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