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Nicholas Sundback '14 and Jesse Vincent '14 Awarded Critical Language Scholarships by the U.S. State Department

Nicholas Sundback '14

Nicholas Sundback '14

Jesse Vincent '14

Jesse Vincent '14

Nicholas Sundback ‘14 and Jesse Vincent ‘14 have been selected to receive U.S. Department of State 2012 Critical Language Scholarships from a pool of more than 5,200 applications. The students will spend seven to 10 weeks this summer in intensive language institutes and participate in cultural immersion activities.

Sundback, an international relations major, will study Korean at Chonbuk National University in Jeonju, South Korea. His interest in the language was sparked by Korean hip-hop music videos, and he has since taken three semesters of Korean at Claremont McKenna College.

Within international relations, Sundback is particularly fascinated by urban development patterns, foreign languages and comparative politics. “I am also interested in comparing the urban development of South Korea with that of Latin America. South Korea rose from rags to riches in a very compressed period of time and I think there is a lot of value in analyzing the many aspects of South Korea's development and applying some of them to other developing economies.”

In addition to English and Korean, Sundback speaks Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese. He credits Korean Professor Young Hwa Hong and Spanish Professor Marina Perez de Mendiola among those who helped him receive the scholarship.

Next fall, he hopes to study abroad in Fortaleza, Brazil. His future plans include learning more languages and applying those skills to a human resources setting, “perhaps to help train employees in a foreign country to help clients overseas.”

A resident of Chevy Chase, MD, Sundback is the son of Joy Pritts and Mark Sundback.

Vincent, a double major in international relations and Russian/East European Studies, will travel to Vladimir, Russia, a medieval capital three hours east of Moscow. He has taken two years of Russian at Pomona where he reports he has had “an amazing time with the Russian Department.” A resident of the Russian hall in Oldenborg, he has added to his language skills by dining at the residence hall’s lunchtime Russian language table almost daily.

Vincent’s interest in Russia began with a high school Russian history class, and he began studying the language during his junior year in high school, when he received a National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarship to study in Gatchina for two months. He also speaks English and Spanish and is in the process of learning Arabic.

Within international relations, Vincent is very interested in global health issues. “I want to help people in Central Russia and former Soviet satellite countries who still live in poor health conditions,” he explains. “If I master Russian, I will have the tools necessary to communicate with people from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, to name a few. Furthermore, I have begun studying Arabic, Muslim tradition, and Middle Eastern history in order to understand the culture of Muslim communities in central Russia and Central Asia. [I hope] to further the discussion and recognition of the HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, since few governments wish to address the issue because of its controversial association with same-sex practices.”

Next fall, Vincent will study abroad in Moscow and work with the UN AIDS program. The following spring, he will study abroad in Jordan. Long-term, he hopes to work for the State Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or an international human rights group.

Vincent is the son of Martha Vincent, and they are residents of Millbrae, Calif.

The Department of State's Critical Language Scholarships (CLS) for Intensive Summer Institutes was launched in 2006 to increase opportunities for American students to study critical-need languages overseas and is part of a wider U.S. government effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical-need languages.

The scholarships cover travel between the student's home city and program location, mandatory costs, applicable visa fees, room, board, program-sponsored travel within country, and all entrance fees for program activities.

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges, is known for small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research. For more information on Pomona College, visit