Two UIC students receive State Department scholarships

Two University of Illinois at Chicago students have been awarded U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships for intensive foreign language study this summer.

The competitive study abroad award will place Bilqees Dinkins, of Chicago (Ashburn), and Maria Folvarska, of Itasca, Illinois, in a fully funded 8-week language program with cultural enrichment experiences.

The scholarships are part of the National Security Language Initiative, a federal inter-agency effort to increase the number of Americans mastering critical-need languages. Recipients are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their language skills in their professional careers.

Bilqees Dinkins

Bilqees Dinkins will study advanced-level Korean in Gwangju, South Korea.

Dinkins, who recently completed her freshman year as a member of the Honors College, will study advanced-level Korean at Chonnam National University in Gwangju, South Korea.

She began as a self-taught learner of the Korean alphabet and language before gaining formal training at the Korean American Community Services Center in Chicago. Last summer, she traveled to Seoul for a 6-week language immersion program through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarship.

Dinkins, a 2015 graduate of Lincoln Park High School, studied Arabic for four years in high school and is minoring in Chinese at UIC. After majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, she plans to pursue careers involving language translation and international politics.

Maria Folvarska

Maria Folvarska will study advanced-level Russian in Vladimir, Russia.

Folvarska, a senior dual majoring in history and mathematics and computer science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will study advanced level Russian at the KORA Russian Language Center in Vladimir, Russia.

She is currently working on a research project about the Canadian Doukhobors, a Russian dissident sect that migrated from the Caucasus region to Canada at the end of the 19th century. In addition to her study of central and eastern European history, she is minoring in French and a member of the UIC Honors College.

Born in Slovakia, Folvarska is a 2013 graduate of Lake Park High School and plans to attend graduate school for Russian history or become a foreign service officer.