UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Cutty Ashley, a University of Richmond rising junior from New Orleans, was awarded a prestigious U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship. Ashley intended to spend his summer in Tangier, Morocco, studying Arabic; however, in light of travel restrictions, CLS summer language institutes for 2020 were canceled.

The prestigious CLS Program is part of a U.S. government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages, which the U.S Department of State defines as those languages less commonly taught in U.S. schools but essential for America’s national security and economic prosperity. It’s a mission Ashley still strongly supports and plans to continue pursuing despite COVID-19 altering plans for the program.

“I came to Richmond with an interest in international affairs and knew I wanted to pursue Global Studies, but I had no original plans to major in Arabic,” Ashley said. “After taking a couple Arabic language classes, as well as classes focused on the cultures and societies of the Arab world, I knew I wanted to devote my time at UR to studying Arabic.”

Ashley is double majoring in Arabic Studies and Global Studies, and he hopes he can pursue future study abroad opportunities to further these passions, including a hope to conduct humanitarian aid work in North Africa.

“We are so proud of Cutty for being selected for this program, and it’s unfortunate he was not able to complete it due to the global health crisis,” said Dana Kuchem, director of the Office of Scholars and Fellowships. “We look forward to following his bright future.”

Finalists for the CLS program are selected from a large pool of about 5,000 applicants.

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