Murfreesboro Native Receives Prestigious "Critical Language Scholarship"

Jun 04, 2023 at 08:15 pm by WGNS

UTC student Emma Roy (photo by Angela Foster)

(CHATTANOOGA) UT Chattanooga rising junior and Murfreesboro native Emma Roy has received the prestigious U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship.

She will study the Chinese language from June 20 through Aug. 16, 2023 at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan.

Emma explained, “This is going to sound crazy, but I’ve always wanted to be a senator. I have always wanted to get involved in politics, and I feel that being accepted into this program is going to be a catalyst for that.”

Emma is a Brock Scholar in the UT Chattanooga Honors College majoring in secondary education: political science.

She has been selected for the 2023 Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Chinese Program, an immersive summer opportunity for U.S. college and university students to learn languages essential to America’s engagement with the world.

This scholarship is an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Students accepted into the CLS Program spend eight to 10 weeks abroad studying one of 14 critical languages, with intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains.

This is not the first time Emma has studied the Chinese language. In fact, she has been doing that since the second grade, and has traveled to China twice.

Her stepfather, Dr. Michael Novak, was the director of the Confucius Institute at Middle Tennessee State University from 2014 until 2021 when that program was discontinued. Her stepdad and her mom, Jessica, are educators in the Rutherford County Schools system.

Emma said, “I’m hoping to better my understanding of the language through this program, and bring back whatever I learn overseas—the language, the culture, the life lessons…I want to bring that back here.”

According to its website, the scholarship program is part of a broader U.S. government effort to significantly boost the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages crucial to national security and economic prosperity. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students nationwide applied for the scholarship this year, with approximately 500 students from 245 institutions selected as finalists.

“The CLS Program is an intensive overseas immersion program, so it is the perfect opportunity to learn Chinese again—or refresh everything that I’ve learned through middle school and high school,” said Emma Roy, a 2021 graduate of The Webb School in Bell Buckle.

Commenting on plans to attend law school once her bachelor’s degree is completed, she said, “I’m not sure exactly what law school or where or necessarily what type of law I want to study, but I feel that with the Critical Language Scholarship Program, I’m going to be able to meet a lot of people. If I have knowledge of Chinese in addition to my law degree, I will have a better advantage in getting involved in politics.”

During her time at UTC, Roy has been a research assistant for Dr. Saeid Golkar in the Department of Political Science and Public Service and for the Institutional Review Board. She has also worked part-time as a childcare assistant for Hamilton County Schools, which she planned to continue this summer until learning of her acceptance into the CLS program.

Emma proudly noted, “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I feel like this is the beginning of my future.”

She is the second UT Chattanooga student selected for the award, joining Hannah Horton, who spent the summer of 2019 studying in Busan, South Korea.

Emma Roy is a Murfreesboro Native. She attended Homer Pittard Campus School and then the Webb School in Bell Buckle. She is currently at UT Chattanooga. She received a very prestigious scholarship from the US Department of State.

Her parents are Jessica and Michael Novak and Ben and Stephanie Roy, all of Murfreesboro.