Drew junior wins prestigious scholarship from U.S. Department of State.

Daniel Gaston will spend the summer living and studying in Russia.
Daniel Gaston will spend the summer living and studying in Russia.

Daniel Gaston will spend two summer months in an intensive language program in Russia.

The third-year computer science major was just awarded a prestigious Critical Language Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State.

Impressively, Gaston began studying Russian only two-and-a-half years ago, when he enrolled at Drew. He didn’t enjoy the study of traditional romance languages in high school and chose Russian for his requirement at Drew because it was different from what he knew.

“My favorite thing about the Russian language is learning things that I would have no exposure to if I spoke only English,” he said. “It would be great to be able to use my Russian skills in a job.”

Through the scholarship, Gaston will spend two months living with a Russian family, experiencing Russian culture and studying at the Lobachevsky State University in Nizhny Novgorod.

Professor Carol Ueland called Gaston an “exceptional student,” who so took to the language after his first year that he voluntarily enrolled in an intensive summer course. The summer intensive accelerated his progress, landing him, as a sophomore at Drew, in courses with advanced students.

Gaston is the second Drew student in the last three years to win a State Department scholarship to Russia. The 21-year-old, who grew up in New Orleans before moving to New Jersey in high school, said it will be his first time traveling overseas.

“I hope to increase my knowledge of Russian language and culture,” he said, “I like that my professors are able to devote so much time to each student. Without one-on-one help from Professor Ueland, I would not have been able to get the scholarship.”