UAB engineering student awarded prestigious language scholarship

UAB student will study foreign language and culture abroad through a U.S. Department of State scholarship program.
Written by: Katherine Shonesy
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rachel thompsonRachael Thompson, a junior honors student in the UAB School of Engineering minoring in Japanese, has been selected for the highly competitive Critical Language Scholarship Program.

The scholarship is a program of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and offers intensive overseas study in 13 critical-need foreign languages.

The CLS is highly selective; only 10 percent of applicants each year are selected for the award. Thompson is the 15th UAB student to win the CLS since 2007. Thompson, a civil engineering major, will spend nine weeks this summer participating in an intensive language institute in Hikone, Japan. She plans to integrate her studies into her career in civil engineering.

Ashley Floyd, director of UAB’s Office of Fellowships, has served as a national reviewer for CLS. “The CLS Program actively seeks applicants from a diverse range of disciplines and backgrounds,” Floyd said. “Rachael’s strong foundation in the Japanese language through the College of Arts and Sciences and her commitment to using Japanese in her future career prepared her to be a strong candidate for this award.”

Thompson is a member of the UAB Honors College’s Experiential Learning Scholars Program and the Civil Engineering Honors Program and is the director of involvement for UAB’s Green Initiative. She also interns with the Alabama Environmental Council, for which she is completing a solar-mapping project. Her interdisciplinary engineering research involves working with the Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, School of Public Health, City of Birmingham, and IBM on food deserts in our community.