UAB spring 2023 graduate to spend summer in India after being awarded prestigious Critical Language Scholarship

Arushi Kotru, a spring 2023 UAB graduate, will have the opportunity to spend the summer in India learning Hindi as a recipient of the prestigious Critical Language Scholarship.

University of Alabama at Birminghaminside Arushi Kotru Headshot61Arushi Kotru,
Photography: Abigail Donovan
graduate, Arushi Kotru, has been selected for the United States Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship Program.

With a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical engineering and minors in biology and chemistry, the 22-year-old UAB Honors College graduate will be spending eight weeks this summer in Jaipur, India, where she will study reading, writing and speaking Hindi.

“I am extremely honored and excited to be a recipient of this scholarship,” Kotru said. “This is such a unique opportunity for me to live with a host family and speak only Hindi with them over the summer, travel independently to and from school, practice Hindi with my Indian language partner, explore Rajasthan and other states during weekends, and get a completely immersive language experience.” 

The Critical Language Scholarship is a unique and prestigious study abroad program that emphasizes cultural immersion through the placement of American students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities into diverse overseas environments. Students are placed in one of 14 critical languages, including but not limited to Turkish, Portuguese, Russian, Persian and Japanese.

With the goal of increasing the number of Americans studying critical foreign languages, the CLS Program seeks to present promising U.S. students with opportunities to develop language and cultural skills that will promote and increase their prowess on an international scale.

Less than 10 percent of applicants are selected for this scholarship, and Kotru is one of approximately 500 chosen students to participate in the 2023 program.

In preparation for the well-vetted application process, Kotru says she was caused to truly reflect and think about why she wanted the scholarship and what she wanted to gain out of the program. 

The Tuscaloosa native says she is excited because this opportunity is not only a monumental educational experience, but one that serves as an ode to her family’s country of origin that will allow her to truly be immersed in her own culture.

Kotru said, “The opportunity to study my native language in the country my family is from is something I do not take for granted, and I look forward to seeing my language skills improve after returning.”

Kotru accredited the professors at UAB for helping prepare her for this opportunity, as well as Michelle Cook, Ph.D., director of UAB’s Office of National and International Fellowships and Scholarships

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“My professors at UAB have constantly supported, encouraged, challenged and pushed me to be the best student I can be,” Kotru said. “Each of their courses has taught me something unique about how to study, learn and think as an individual and when collaborating in group settings, and I will carry the skills they have equipped me with to India when I am in class with my peers.”

After she finishes her summer in India, Kotru will begin her stint at the National Institutes of Health as a part of the Intramural Research Training Program. Kotru plans to soon apply to medical school and eventually begin a medical scientist training program, where she will earn her dual M.D./Ph.D. and go on to become a physician-scientist. 

For more information about the Critical Language Scholarship, visit