Assistant professor of instruction in Russian wins NSA grant
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The National Security Agency and the National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland named Dr. Iya Price, Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of Russian, a recipient of the agency's STARTALK grant. The $89,980 grant will fund STARTALK 2021: Let's Go to Russia/the Middle East, an intensive critical language program open to undergraduates and upper-level high school students at no cost.

Under the direction of Dr. Price, the program will offer two language tracks, Russian, led by Dr. Lonny Harrison and Arabic, led by Ms. Reem Shishakly. The National Security Agency and U.S. Department of State define Russian and Arabic as critical need languages - less commonly taught in U.S. schools, but essential to America's positive engagement with the world. The federal government offers many funding and scholarship opportunities to strengthen critical-language proficiency in the United States. Programs like these play "an important role in preparing U.S. students for the 21st century globalized workforce, increasing American competitiveness, and contributing to national security," according to the U.S. Department of State website.

"STARTALK funding gives students an opportunity to get their feet wet in studying a less commonly taught language at no expense. They can see if this is something they want to pursue further," said Dr. Price. "Studying critical languages can open doors to various jobs in intelligence and security."

Upon successful completion of the program, students will achieve a high novice or low intermediate level of Russian or Arabic language proficiency and have a basic understanding of Russian or Arab culture. Students who wish to continue their language studies at UTA will be eligible to earn up to eight university credit hours at no expense.

"This program helps us to fulfill the mission of the university as a public-serving institution," says Dr. Sonia Kania, Chair of the Department of Modern Languages. "Students are given a unique opportunity to achieve novice to intermediate proficiency in a very short period of time, and our faculty are able to bring their expertise in Rusian and Arabic language and culture to a group of students who may otherwise have never been exposed to the language. The impact is significant."

The STARTALK course will resume in Summer of 2021. All program activities including tuition, textbooks, learning materials, and lunches are free to students. For more information on how to apply, look for updates on our events page.