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Baruch Students Earn Critical Language Scholarships to Study Abroad

IlanaGelb        SamuelRubinstein

       Ilana Gelb                                         Samuel Rubinstein


NEW YORK, NY-March 24, 2015 - Baruch College students Ilana Gelb and Samuel Rubinstein were awarded Critical Language Scholarships and an opportunity to study abroad.

The Critical Language Scholarship Program (CLS) is an intensive overseas language study program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. CLS is part of a U.S. government effort to dramatically expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages.

Ilana will be traveling to Jaipur, India to study Hindi, and Samuel will be traveling to Meknes, Morocco to study Arabic.

Ilana and Samuel were among the 500 students who were nationally selected from more than 5,000 applicants. Valeria Hymas, Post-Graduate & National Fellowships Advisor at Baruch College, says Ilana and Samuel are the first Baruch students since 2008 to receive CLS Scholarships.

Ilana is a junior Macaulay Honors College student in the CUNY B.A. program. She is majoring in Violence, Conflict, and Development, which is a compilation of human rights, sustainable development, anthropology, and political science. Ilana will be studying Hindi in Jaipur, India starting in mid-June.

“I will be staying in India for a semester abroad with the Alliance for Global Education,” said Ilana, who is from Bedford, New York. “During this semester I will continue studying Hindi, as well as Indian culture. I will also be volunteering and conducting research with the NGO, Guria that aids victims of human trafficking and forced second-generation prostitution in the red light district of Varanasi. I will be in India for about 7 months.” 

Ilana, who is also a New York State finalist for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship, is devoting her career to gender equality in India due to her passion for Indian culture, the Hindi language, and her commitment to women’s rights. Ilana says learning Hindi will enable her to effectively communicate with at-risk populations, learn the needs of the communities, and influence changes in Indian and international policy. Ilana also said:


The interdisciplinary coursework during my stay in India, as well as my volunteer work with Guria, will allow me to learn more about the dynamics of gender-based violence and human trafficking, and better prepare me for a career in preventing and mitigating gender-based violence.


Samuel Rubinstein, a junior Macaulay Honors College student majoring in Economics, currently serves on the Undergraduate Student Government as Vice President of Academic Affairs. Samuel’s family is originally from Minsk, Belarus, and they moved to the United States in 1993. Samuel is the first person in his family to be born in the United States and says he’s looking forward to his experience in Morocco that begins on May 31.

“This will not be my first time in Morocco,” said Samuel, who was born Cincinnati and raised in Brooklyn. “I had the chance to go last year and the experience taught me that there is more to life than having a fancy car and six figure paying job. Sometimes, it's nice to sit down with your family, drink tea, and hear the birds chip.”

Samuel also hopes to engage with local citizens who can offer insight into the Moroccan culture and economy.

“Arabic is an important language to know in this globalized economy, but I hope to meet like-minded Moroccans who would want to foster better economic trade between Morocco and The United States,” he said. “In addition, I think my experiences could make a good novel someday.”

Both Ilana and Samuel encourage other students to consider applying for scholarships that offer an opportunity to study abroad. Samuel said:


I would suggest if someone wants to study abroad, it should involve learning a language,” Samuel said. “Whether it is Arabic or Mandarin, you cannot just learn in the classroom. You need to be immersed in the country, the customs, and the people.


“Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity to learn a new language and immerse oneself in another culture,” Ilana said. “While it does not have to be as drastically different from NYC as India, there is great value in being around people who learn, think, behave, and communicate differently than people in one’s own culture. It is an excellent opportunity to challenge oneself, to explore one’s education from a different perspective, and to learn intercultural communication.”



About Baruch College:

Baruch College is a senior college in the City University of New York (CUNY) with a total enrollment of more than 18,000 students, who represent 160 countries and speak more than 100 languages. Ranked among the top 15% of U.S. colleges and the No. 4 public regional university, Baruch College is regularly recognized as among the most ethnically diverse colleges in the country. As a public institution with a tradition of academic excellence, Baruch College offers accessibility and opportunity for students from every corner of New York City and from around the world. For more about Baruch College, go to



Manny Romero, (646) 660-6141,
Mercedes Sanchez, (646) 660-6112,
Evelisse Luciano, (646) 660-6134,

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