A Prestigious Language Scholarship is Sending This Junior to Russia

Sarah Calderone’s passion for the Russian language has taken her to the annual Olympiada, a foreign-language competition held at Drew that she won as a high school senior, to an internship at Human Rights Watch, and to Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach, a neighborhood of Russian ex-pats to which Calderone C’13 led a trip with Drew’s Russian Club. This summer it will take her even farther, to the historic city of Vladimir, the one-time capital of ancient Russia.

Calderone will spend two months studying in Vladimir as the recipient of a prestigious Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. State Department—the first such Russian-language recipient from Drew, according to professor Carol Ueland, coordinator of Drew’s Russian program. The trip will be Calderone’s first time visiting Russia. It’s fair to say she’s pumped.

“The Critical Language Scholarship is an all-expenses paid trip,” she says. “That had always been my problem.”

A junior from Sparta, N.J., majoring in Russian and political science, Calderone will stay in Vladimir with a host family while attending classes five days a week. In her free time she hopes to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg and to conduct independent research for her senior honors thesis, which she plans to write about human rights in Russia.

Calderone says her interest in the topic intensified last fall, when she interned at Human Rights Watch while taking part in Drew’s United Nations Semester. “The entire fall was just a wonderful opportunity,” she says. “I learned a lot about Russia and its human rights situation. I’d love to research human rights abuses and be able to advocate and report on them.”

Before she leaves for Russia, though, Calderone has some work to do here at home. In April she’ll lead another trip to Brighton Beach with the Russian Club—she’s the president—and this week she’ll return to the high school Olympiada, this time as a judge.—Christopher Hann