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SALT LAKE CITY — A University of Utah-Brigham Young University partnership has been awarded a $6.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support language study and international education over the next four years.
The grant will provide funding directly to the U.'s Center for Latin American Studies and its Asia Center, and BYU's counterparts, and will earmark $4.6 million for student scholarships.
Claudio Holzner, director of Latin American Studies at the U., said Title VI grants are a main source of funding for academic programs in critical foreign languages and multidisciplinary international studies.
"These prestigious grants recognize the U. as a national leader in research and teaching of Latin America and Asia and of the languages spoken in those regions. We serve a critical role in ensuring that the U.S. maintains a deep pool of experts in regions of the world that are critical to economic competitiveness and national security," said Holzner, who is also an associate professor of political science.
The grant will fund undergraduate and graduate student scholarships from all disciplines to study less-commonly taught languages of Latin America and Asia. Funds typically cover full tuition plus a stipend to help ensure broader access to the university regardless of students' financial need.
Anh Cao, who is a student studying international studies and economics at the U., said a Foreign Language and Area Studies scholarship has enabled her to be more adventurous with her education and develop career goals.
"I've been able to gain so much more with my education here at the U. with different classroom experiences, international travel and mentors because of FLAS," Cao said.
Cao aspires to work in business consulting or law and use her experience to benefit lesser developed countries. She had the opportunity to travel to Vietnam for three months because of her scholarship.
The U.'s Asia Center and the Center for Latin American Studies partner with BYU and with many departments across campus to facilitate the development of curriculum, public events, conferences, study abroad and internship programs.
The centers reach out to K-12 schools, community colleges and nonprofit and business groups, so the benefit of the grants are felt beyond the campus, Holzner said.
"Our mission is to serve as a resource for the university, community and the state of Utah. We work to enhance academic programs across campus and to train highly skilled graduates who are prepared to enter the workforce," he said.