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Stan Yerrick wins Critical Language Scholarship in Arabic, wants to unravel complexities of Middle East and North Africa region

Stan Yerrick, a political science major in the Honors Tutorial College at Ohio University, has been awarded a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) for Arabic.

The scholarship, funded by the U.S. Department of State, aims to give college students opportunities to deepen their understanding of critical foreign languages by fully immersing them in the language and culture. CLS not only provides financial support but also covers travel and living expenses. Yerrick’s program will take place in Amman, Jordan from June to August 2024.

“I am extremely excited to live with a host family,” Yerrick said, “and become immersed in Jordanian culture and tradition. It’s very important to be surrounded by all facets of a language when learning or being immersed in one.” It has been Yerrick’s dream since the third grade to visit the ancient city of Petra.

“I am also eager to connect with students who share my passion for that region of the world,” Yerrick said.

Yerrick, who is also enrolled in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Studies Certificate program and the Certificate in Islamic Studies program in the College of Arts and Sciences, is looking forward to learning more about the region through this scholarship program.

“Throughout my life, my fascination with the history of the region, whether it be Ancient Egypt or the Ottoman Empire, has remained a constant,” Yerrick said.  In high school, though, Yerrick was often frustrated by the fact that these topics were seldom discussed.

“When they were,” Yerrick said, “the conversations often concentrated on the violence or terrorism that occurs there, overshadowing the region’s rich culture and history. It was this narrow portrayal that frustrated me deeply; I knew there was more to this area of the world than plain brutality. My perspective shifted greatly when I befriended individuals from the region, particularly Palestine and Afghanistan. Through their stories, they painted a clear picture of everyday life, offering a perspective far removed from sensationalized news headlines or political rhetoric. These friendships served as a catalyst for my deeper exploration of the MENA region.”

Yerricks’s undergraduate journey has been largely dedicated to unraveling the complexities of how the MENA region has been shaped by numerous influences, including the media, religion, Western powers, and language. Upon return, Yerrick anticipates beginning undergraduate honors thesis work.

“My hope,” he noted “is to incorporate what I have learned from CLS into my thesis. I will be interviewing a wide range of pro-Palestinian activists for my research, and I anticipate using my Arabic skills to facilitate my research.”

For Hany Abdelmoula, Yerrick’s Arabic instructor in the Linguistics Department, it came as no surprise when Yerrick was awarded the prestigious Critical Language Scholarship.

“Stan has an infectious enthusiasm for learning” Abdelmoula said. “Stan’s success serves as an inspiration to other students and a testament to the value of hard work and dedication in language learning.”

With more than 372 million native speakers globally and the official language in 22 countries, Abdelmoula believes that  “Arabic provides a valuable asset for American students seeking to engage with diverse cultures and pursue opportunities in an interconnected world.”

Long-term,  Yerrick wants to pursue a PhD and further explore the complexities of the MENA region and fulfill his ambition to become a college professor.

For more details about the Arabic Program contact the Program Coordinator Abdelmoula at

May 28, 2024
Staff reports