Kevin McAleese, a political science and international affairs dual major from Nashua, N.H., has received a U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship to study the Azeri language in Baku, Azerbaijan. He’ll spend 8 weeks at the Azerbaijan University of Languages this summer.
The scholarship program is part of the U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical languages. Over 5,000 students applied for the 2013 competition; McAleese is one of approximately 600 successful applicants.
McAleese became interested in Azerbaijan after learning of the country’s influence within the Middle East and Eurasia and its close military ties to the U.S. “Increasing military and political relations with Azerbaijan and developing a stronger cultural connection with its people could help solidify a strategic ally in the Caucasus,” writes McAleese, who hopes to use his language skills and experience to achieve his goal of joining the Peace Corps and eventually becoming a political officer in the Foreign Service.