International Relations Student Wins Critical Language Scholarship

Cora Woloson '23

Cora Woloson '23 (SUNY Geneseo photo/Matt Burkhartt)

Cora Woloson ’23, from Canandaigua, NY, has won a highly competitive Critical Language Scholarship award to study Hindi during Summer 2023 in Jaipur, India, at the American Institute of Indian Studies. Woloson is an international relations major with a minor in political science and a concentration in the developing world.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a fully funded summer overseas language and cultural immersion program sponsored by the US State Department for American undergraduate and graduate students to encourage study of 14 languages deemed to be vitally important to national security and competitiveness.

Woloson is the ninth Geneseo CLS recipient and the first winner for Hindi. Four alumni have won awards for Russian (Abdul Sanderson ‘20Annie Renaud ’19Alex McGrath ’17, Mark Simeone ’10), three for Turkish (Cate Shields ’19, Bob Viglietta ’12, James Kuras ’09), and one for Arabic (Maria Sigalas ’13).

Since returning from a Rotary Youth Exchange year in Mumbai, India, during 2019–20, Woloson has been intently interested in international development initiatives focused on combating poverty.

“Receiving a CLS at this point of my career provides me with the most instrumental catalyst for change: the ability to develop interpersonal relationships based on cross-cultural understanding,” she says. “Proficiency in Hindi will allow me to better understand India through the experiences of the people themselves, which will make me a more culturally responsive, caring, and insightful international ambassador.”

After her CLS experience, Woloson expects to continue her Hindi studies through a master’s degree at Georgetown University in global affairs and international development. She plans for a career as a Department of State Foreign Service officer with the United States Agency of International Development (USAID). Woloson is also a semi-finalist for a 2023–24 US Student Fulbright award to spend a year teaching English in India.

“I hope to work in international development policy, specializing in long-term educational development aid as a project management specialist in the USAID Bureau for Asia,” she says. “Hindi will be vital in my contributing to bilateral and regional initiatives to increase food security through USAID’s Feed the Future Initiatives in Nepal and Bangladesh.”

At Geneseo, Woloson serves on the executive board of the South Asian Cultural Club Shakti and has been an RA for International Student Engagement in the college’s Global House residence hall. She is currently working in the Office of International Student Scholarship Services, coordinating campus-wide events geared toward intercultural engagement.

Students and alumni interested in the CLS program should contact Director of National Fellowships and Scholarships Michael Mills at For more information about other nationally and internationally competitive scholarship and fellowship programs, visit Fellowships and Scholarships.

—Michael Mills