Six Students Studying Abroad This Summer on Critical Language Scholarships

OXFORD, Miss. – An ever-shrinking world continues to increase the need for individuals to be able to collaborate and compete for jobs in the global market. With this in mind, many American college students are seeking ways to immerse themselves in an additional culture and language.

Getting ahead in this effort are six University of Mississippi students who are among 630 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students selected to participate in this summer’s U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship Program. They are spending eight to 10 weeks abroad at intensive language institutes where their chosen critical languages are taught and spoken.The students, their language choices and summer study destinations are as follows:

– William Bumpas of Dyersburg, Tenn.; Chinese; Xi’an, China; Alliance for Global Education at Shaanxi Normal University

– Wesley Chesteen of Kilmichael; Turkish; Bursa, Turkey; TÖMER Institute, Bursa Branch

– James Cutchin of Palm Desert, Calif.; Chinese; Beijing, China; Alliance for Global Education at Beijing Language and Culture University

– Christopher Finseth of Hattiesburg; Russian; Kazan, Russia; Kazan Institute of the Social Sciences and Humanities

– Gideon Moorhead of Oxford; Arabic; Amman, Jordan; American Center for Oriental Research

– Orion Wilcox of Bay St. Louis; Arabic; Rabat, Morocco; American Institute for Maghrib Studies and AMIDEAST

The CLS Program is a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. It provides fully funded, group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to increase language fluency and cultural competency. Particular attention is paid to students from states/regions of the U.S. that have been historically under-represented in the CLS applicant pool and to students from diverse backgrounds and academic majors.

The UM Department of Modern Languages is committed to developing very high language proficiencies in its students, and these CLS scholarships are emblematic of that success, said Don Dyer, chair of modern languages.

“I think it’s fair to say that the University of Mississippi has become a special place for language studies, and its reputation as such is spreading. Many students choose to come to UM now looking to achieve high language proficiencies, and with hard work and dedication, they are able to do just that.”

Bumpas, a junior majoring in Chinese and international studies, is member of the Croft Institute and Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. He holds a Croft Scholarship, Academic Excellence Scholarship and Chancellor’s Leadership Scholarship. As for his career, Bumpus said, “The only thing I’m certain about is that it will have something to do with Chinese. One major possibility is working for the U.S. government, but I’m also interested in academia.”

Chesteen is enrolled in the master’s degree program on an assistantship in the history department and an Honors Fellowship. He is a graduate of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, with degrees in history and anthropology. He plans to complete his current Ole Miss studies, focusing on Turkish nationalism, “but, regrettably, I likely will leave to attend a Ph.D. program at another university,” he said.

Cutchin, a junior majoring in international studies and Chinese, said he is planning to pursue a career as a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State. He is a member of the Croft Institute and Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. He holds the Rose Bui Memorial Scholarship, Academic Excellence Scholarship and Millington Scholarship.

Finseth is a junior liberal studies major in the College of Liberal Arts, with minors in Russian, French and military science. He won the 2012 Russian Student of the Year Award and the 2011 200-Level Russian Student of the Year Award. He was a two-year participant on the Army ROTC Ranger Challenge Team, and, earlier this summer, he attended Army Air Assault School at Ft. Benning, Ga., 10 days of rigorous, fast-paced training. This is Finseth’s third study trip to Russia.

“After my military service, I would love to work in the State Department or find a job living and working in a foreign country,” Finseth said.

Moorhead is a senior majoring in public policy leadership. He is a member of the Lott Leadership Institute. (Other information is not available.)

Wilcox is a junior economics major and member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. He was named the 2010-11 Outstanding Student in Arabic. He plans to work in international development in either the government or private sector.

To learn more about the Department of Modern Languages, visit For more information about the Study Abroad Office, visit