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WIU alum Patrick Bohnenpamp is studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan this summer with the help of a U.S. Department of State scholarship.
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WIU Alum Awarded Language Scholarship

July 8, 2015

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MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University alumnus Patrick Bohnenkamp, of Ft. Madison, IA, is currently studying in Amman, Jordan as a recipient of a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). He is the first WIU graduate to receive one of these highly competitive scholarships.

This summer, Bohnenkamp is studying Arabic for two months. He received his bachelor's degree in anthropology from WIU in 2014 and was the department scholar.

In 2015, 550 CLS scholarships were awarded to graduate and undergraduate students in the United States. Students come from 49 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, and represent more than 200 institutions of higher education from across the United States, including public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, minority-serving institutions and community colleges.

"Studying Arabic in Jordan with the CLS program has been a life-changing experience," said Bohnenkamp. "Complete immersion was terrifying at first, but it has taught me new ways of learning and living through cultural exposure. My time in Jordan has strengthened my Arabic skills, as well as my love for people and my desire for organic experiences. I am grateful for the warmth and kindness my Jordanian friends have shown me, as well as the opportunity to study Arabic amidst such a people."

Bohnenkamp credited faculty members in WIU's Department of Anthropology, Professor Heather McIlvaine-Newsad and Assistant Professor Christina Davis, for supporting and encouraging him to apply for the scholarship.

"Their support gave me confidence to do things I would have never done," he said. "They didn't just suggest I study Arabic, they believed I could learn Arabic and they believed I could get a scholarship to study abroad - now here I am. Their support and encouragement made a huge difference in my confidence and ability to pursue what I never would have otherwise."

The CLS program is part of an effort by the U.S. government to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Program participants are expected to continue their language study after the scholarship term has ended and use what they learn in their future careers.

For more information on the CLS Scholarship Program, visit

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