Sophomore Anastasia Winfield Earns Critical Language Scholarship to Study Kiswahili in Tanzania


MACON – Mercer University sophomore Anastasia Winfield was recently awarded a Critical Language Scholarship by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to study Kiswahili in Tanzania this summer.

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a fully-funded summer overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. With the goal of broadening the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and building relationships between the people of the United States and other countries, the CLS provides opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the U.S. at every level of language learning.

Winfield, from McDonough, is a global health studies major on the pre-health track with a minor in art. She aspires to become a doctor or physician assistant and work with an organization such as Doctors Without Borders to serve areas with healthcare shortages.

Winfield was introduced to the scholarship program by her adviser, Dr. Amy Nichols-Belo, assistant professor of global health studies and anthropology, who speaks Kiswahili – which is spoken in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo – and co-organizes a Mercer On Mission trip to Tanzania with Dr. Natalie Bourdon, associate professor of women's and gender studies (WGS) and anthropology and chair of WGS.

“I'm incredibly proud of Anastasia for winning this prestigious scholarship. The CLS Program allows students to complete one year of language training in a summer and to develop cultural as well as linguistic fluency,” said Dr. Nichols-Belo.

Dr. Nichols-Belo and Dr. Bourdon plan to practice Kiswahili with Winfield during the 2017-2018 academic year to maintain her language skills in preparation for a Mercer On Mission trip to Tanzania next summer.

“I can't wait to fully immerse myself into another culture. I think it's so important to learn and appreciate other cultures, and with my specific interest in Tanzania, the ability to begin studying this culture and language is going to be amazing,” said Winfield.

As an undergraduate, Winfield has served as a member of Phi Eta Sigma, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and the Organization of Black Students.

The CLS Program does not require applicants to have any experience studying critical languages. The scholarship is offered in 14 languages, including Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bangla, Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Swahili, Turkish and Urdu.

The program seeks participants with diverse interests, and from a wide range of fields of study and career paths, with the purpose of representing the full diversity of the U.S. Participants are selected based on their commitment to language learning and plans to apply their language skills to their future academic or professional pursuits. For more information, visit