Three Pitzer College Students Earn Critical Language Scholarships

Claremont, Calif. (April 22, 2022)—Three Pitzer College students have been accepted into the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program to study Mandarin Chinese. A program of the US Department of State, CLS is a summer study abroad opportunity for American college and university students to learn languages essential to America’s engagement with the world.

Pitzer’s CLS Program awardees are:

Ariel Kivela ’22

Ariel Kivela ’22, an international politics and East Asian studies major, looks forward to pairing Mandarin Chinese with her knowledge of Spanish and English, which Kivela says will allow her to speak to a majority of people in the world. Kivela is dyslexic, and part of her interest in Mandarin Chinese stemmed from how it uses logographic characters instead of a letter structure, which allows her to see language from a different perspective. Kivela previously studied abroad in China in summer 2019, although for this year’s CLS program, she will be engaging in the coursework virtually. “This was a huge steppingstone for me,” says Kivela. “I’ve applied before and getting it in my senior year is really special. It gives me the opportunity to solidify my knowledge of the language and have the confidence to use it in the working world.”

Kayla Mathurin ’24

Kayla Mathurin ’24, an international political economy major, has been studying Mandarin for eight years. Ever since she began learning in the sixth grade, she has been curious to explore more about Chinese culture. Mathurin studied abroad in the summer of 2018 and 2019 while staying with a friend in China, where she visited an elementary school and saw how different the schooling, curriculum, and broader government system are compared to the US. “I wanted to dive deeper into that, not as a tourist but for an educational purpose,” says Mathurin. During the CLS Program, she will focus on language proficiency and having conversations about everyday topics to expand beyond coursework.

Alex Maynard ’24

Alex Maynard ’24 was born in China, but she forgot the language when she moved to the US at age six. Since then, she has worked hard to regain her knowledge. Last summer, Maynard was working at a Chinese language immersion camp for high school students, and the camp counselors who had participated in the CLS program themselves encouraged her to apply. After growing up in a predominantly white area in Ohio, Maynard looks forward to traveling to Taiwan to learn more about her identity and culture. “Even though it’s Taiwan and not China, I still will be able to make that connection,” says Maynard. “I think that it will be interesting to learn about Chinese and Taiwanese government relationships, especially because I’m interested in political studies and economics as a combined major.”

The CLS Program is part of a US government effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Students of diverse disciplines and majors are encouraged to apply. Participants are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship period and later apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit

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