Critical Language Scholarship takes MSU senior on Indonesian summer experience

Joy Cariño (Photo by Beth Wynn)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A top Mississippi State student from Starkville has been selected to participate this summer in the U.S. Department of State-sponsored Critical Language Scholarship Program.

Senior English major Joy Cariño, a Presidential Scholar in the university’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, will spend a month in Malang, Indonesia, as part of an intensive language and cultural immersion program at the Universitas Negeri Malang.

Implemented by the Washington, D.C.-based American Councils for International Education, the Critical Language Scholarship Program is part of a wider U.S. government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.

CLS works to prepare students for the 21st century’s globalized workforce and increase national competitiveness through intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. For more, visit

David M. Hoffman, associate professor and graduate coordinator in the MSU Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, said the university is “incredibly proud” of Cariño who will experience the in-depth study of culture and language in Indonesia.

“Joy’s acceptance to the CLS Indonesia program really is a testament to her taking advantage of the world-class opportunities for study and research that we have here at MSU, particularly in the areas of linguistics and foreign languages,” said Hoffman, who also serves as the CLS scholarship adviser, Boren Scholarship campus representative and Fulbright program adviser in the honors college’s Office of Prestigious External Scholarships.

Cariño, a Mississippi School for Math and Science graduate and recipient of an MSU Ottilie Schillig Leadership Scholarship, said she has prepared for the trip by reading books and conducting other research on Indonesia with guidance from Hoffman.

“Dr. Hoffman has been my main contact throughout the application process,” she said. “He has been really helpful with the narratives I had to write and offering suggestions on what to look up about Indonesia.”

Cariño said she came to Starkville as a 3 year old when her family moved from the Philippines for her mom to pursue an MSU doctoral degree in statistics. Her father Ric is an associate research professor at MSU’s Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems, one of the premier university automotive research centers in the world.

“As a Presidential Scholar, I was blessed to have the cool opportunity to take Dr. Keenum’s leadership class,” Cariño said. “I really benefitted from it because he talked about the importance of being intentional with everyone you meet and making connections. I got to hear a lot of different perspectives on leadership, so taking that class was an important time in my life.”

While she has traveled overseas to Thailand to visit family, Cariño said this upcoming trip will be her first study-abroad experience. She looks forward to expanding her cultural awareness through interactions with a host family and studying Bahasa Indonesia, the country’s official language.

“Speaking another language opens doors for communication and understanding between different cultures, so I am excited about opportunities to do that,” she said.

Pursuing minors in linguistics and mathematics, Cariño also is earning a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate through the university’s English department.

“I like that the TESOL program is open to any major," said Cariño, who co-founded the university’s Poetry Club. "I have friends who are studying chemistry and other science-related majors, and they are taking the TESOL classes to get the certificate. The classes are challenging, but the information is very useful and fun to learn.”

Following graduation, Cariño hopes to put her passion for intercultural exchange to use by teaching English to secondary- and middle school-aged students at public schools in other countries.

“I think knowing English is something many of us in the U.S. may take for granted since it’s widely spoken,” she said. “I also want to help promote language learning among Americans, especially languages that are lesser known, but important for international relations.”

Cariño said she encourages students in any major to consider applying for the Critical Language Scholarship.

“Even if it’s not discussed in the communities you are a part of at MSU or you’re not an honors student, you can still pursue this kind of opportunity.”

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,300 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. Complete details about the College of Arts and Sciences and Department of English can be found at or

Learn more about the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College and the Office of Prestigious External Scholarships at

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