MSU’s Harper and Phillips awarded Critical Language Scholarships

Ryan Harper (Photo by Jonah Holland)
Joshua Phillips portrait
Joshua Phillips (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A couple of Mississippi State students have earned the prestigious Critical Language Scholarships from the U.S. Department of State and are set to delve into foreign languages overseas and online this summer.

Ryan Harper, hailing from Philadelphia and pursuing a junior degree in electrical engineering, is slated to partake in virtual Mandarin classes through the CLS Spark initiative. On the other hand, Joshua Phillips, a senior majoring in political science and economics from Birmingham, Alabama, will be immersing himself in Arabic studies in Jordan.

This noteworthy achievement marks the sixth consecutive year that a student from MSU has been granted this coveted scholarship through the highly competitive selection process.

David Hoffman, the director of MSU’s Office of Prestigious External Scholarships, remarked, “Ryan and Joshua exemplify the caliber of MSU students on a national level. Their fervent interest in language as a means of fostering international cooperation in scientific breakthroughs and foreign affairs is commendable. Joshua’s triumph this year is a testament to his earlier success and training in the CLS Spark program, indicating the potential for Ryan to also capitalize on similar opportunities in the future.”

Harper, a distinguished member of the 2024 Bagley College of Engineering Student Hall of Fame and ENGR Accelerated Program, emphasized that learning Mandarin enables him to stay abreast of technological advancements in the field of electrical engineering originating from China, facilitating seamless communication channels for sharing crucial discoveries and innovations.

Phillips, a revered G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Presidential Endowed Scholar and a finalist for the Truman Scholarship, has a multicultural background, having grown up in Australia before relocating to the U.S. His interest in international relations, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa regions, led him to envision a future as a foreign service officer at the U.S. Department of State post-graduation.

Administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs under the U.S. Department of State, the CLS and CLS Spark programs are integral components of a government initiative aimed at increasing the number of Americans proficient in foreign languages crucial for national security and economic well-being. For additional details, please visit www.clscholarship.org.

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