Recent MSU graduate named Fulbright finalist, receives second CLS scholarship

Recent MSU graduate named Fulbright finalist, receives second CLS scholarship

MSU Office of Public Affairs

News Bureau (662) 325-3442

Contact: John Burrow

     STARKVILLE, Miss. –2020 Mississippi State University graduate Donielle D. Allen is now a Fulbright Finalist for the 2021-2022 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and also is the recipient of a second Critical Language Scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and this year celebrates its 75th anniversary. Since 1946, the Fulbright program has provided scholarships to more than 400,000 participants from 160+ countries, offering opportunities to study, teach and conduct research, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

     Allen, a microbiology graduate from McCalla, Alabama, will begin a master’s program in global health at National Taiwan University this fall with her Fulbright scholarship.

     While at MSU, she was a member of the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College and received mentorship and guidance from the Office of Prestigious External Scholarships while seeking the Fulbright and CLS opportunities.

     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 crucial 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 designed to promote rapid verbalization gains.

     Allen received her first CLS last year. She was invited to travel to Tainan, Taiwan, but the trip was canceled because of COVID-19. She instead attended virtual classes through Dalian University of Technology where she received intensive Mandarin Chinese language instruction.

     For her second CLS, Allen will travel to Tamkang University in New Taipei City, Taiwan, this summer prior to beginning her year as a Fulbright Finalist, where she will continue Mandarin Chinese lessons in reading, writing, speaking and listening.

     “The timing of this CLS could not have been better,” Allen said. “I am preparing to attend graduate school in Taiwan in the fall, so it would be amazing if I could use this summer to study more Mandarin, familiarize myself with the traditional Chinese characters that they use in Taiwan, and get a feel for the culture, environment and figure out a budget before I fully immerse myself in graduate studies.” Allen also participated in a Fall 2018 trip to China as a Boren Scholarship recipient. “In China, I had to get out of my comfort zone and learn how to speak nothing but the language to express myself,” she said.

     Allen said her advisor David M. Hoffman—interim director of the Shackouls Honors College Office of Prestigious External Scholarships and associate professor in the university's Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures—was “an amazing advisor,” crediting Hoffman for many of her successes.

     “His advice has helped me become confident enough to speak up about who I am, my experiences and challenges as an African American female and a first-generation college student, and also helped me openly express my goals no matter how unique and out of the ordinary,” Allen said. “He is genuinely one of those professors who cares about his students and helps out in any way that he can. He also has what I call, ‘the eye.’ He can see your strengths and weaknesses in your application and your story/narrative as an individual. He is also very patient and works with you through every step of the application.”

     Hoffman said Allen was “an excellent fit” for the program CLS program as well as the Fulbright program. “Not only was her academic record excellent and rigorous, she had a demonstrated commitment to learning Mandarin prior to applying. In her application, Donielle did an excellent job of showing how the CLS language experience will articulate with her future plans.”

     Hoffman said Allen has demonstrated her ability to work in challenging and intensive cross-cultural environments, proven by her “successful navigation” of her Boren year in China. “She demonstrated that she’ll continue to use Mandarin and that she intends to use the knowledge she gains to build a better health future in the U.S. South via her intention to combine traditional Chinese medicine with Western medicine. Thus, her engagement with the Mandarin and Chinese culture will not end with this trip.”

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