Eleanna “Ele” Sorensen ’23
Eleanna “Ele” Sorensen ’23 will hone her long-time interest in the Arabic language as the recipient of a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS).

The CLS Program is a summer study abroad opportunity for American college and university students that provides rigorous academic instruction in 15 languages critical to America's national security and economic prosperity. Due to the worldwide pandemic, the majority of CLS institutes for 2021 will be offered as virtual programs.

“I started studying Arabic in high school after feeling like I wasn’t liking my Spanish classes and wanted to try something different,” Sorensen said. “I sort of fell in love with the language, thought the grammar structures were really cool, and enjoyed learning about how the words connected with each other.”

Sorensen said the virtual program through a Moroccan institute is about two hours of class a day, plus two to three hours a week of practice with language partners, in addition to cultural activities. She studied abroad in Jordan previously, prior to coming to Hamilton, so has some experience with similar programs, she said.

“I’m disabled and particularly interested in working in disability access and inclusivity in the Middle East,” Sorensen explained. “In Jordan, I saw how inaccessible Amman was, especially with regard to the lack of sidewalks and elevators and public transport. Growing my Arabic language skills, and pursuing graduate education in disability-specific studies such as urban development or public policy, or will allow me to work on these issues in the Middle East and elsewhere.”

Ele Sorensen ’23

Major: Public policy
Hometown: Eugene, Ore.
High School: Oregon Connections Academy High School

At Hamilton, Sorensen is on the board of Chabad community on campus, and is actions lead emerita for the Sunrise Movement. She is a teaching assistant at the University of California Berkeley, City Planning 120: Community Planning and Public Policy for Disability.

CLS participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period and later apply their critical language skills in their professional careers.

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