University of Wisconsin-Madison student Madeline Ruid decided to learn Turkish after watching the 2010 FIBA World Cup of Basketball, held in Istanbul, on television. Little did she know her passion for basketball would eventually lead her to earning a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) and later an ambassador position with the CLS program.
"During the World Cup, they kept showing the city and [the Turkish] language and it looked awesome," says Ruid. "I was looking for a random language. It's a weird reason, I know."
Ruid is a fifth-year student studying physical geography, cartography/geographic information systems, and languages and cultures of Asia. In 2011, she decided to enroll in Turkish classes at UW-Madison after taking French classes in high school and one semester of French in college. Ruid's instructors were immediately impressed with her language skills.
"I was very amazed because she was the first student I met who started learning Turkish here who's very fluent in Turkish," says Funda Derin, Ruid's instructor for third-year Turkish. "Her vocabulary and grammar are great."
Ruid also loves the Turkish program at UW-Madison because the classes are very small, which allows her to ask a lot of questions.
Ruid took a few semesters of Turkish and realized she wanted to study in Turkey, so she applied for the Critical Language Scholarship Program last fall. After a few rounds of interviews, the CLS Program awarded her the scholarship.
As a part of the CLS Program, Ruid had the chance to study abroad in Ankara, Turkey, for two months this past summer. With 25 hours of class time a week and traveling to other cities, Ruid was completely immersed in the Turkish language.
"It's fun to be able to use the language that I've been studying for six semesters," says Ruid. "My speaking abilities have improved."
Not only does she love practicing the language, she loves the Turkish culture.
"The people were so sweet. Everyone wants to talk about Turkish hospitality, and it's so true," Ruid says. "I got lost on the bus once when it was thunder storming and a girl gave me a ride home."
After returning to Madison, she applied to be an Ambassador for Turkish for the CLS Program. In October, she found out she earned the CLS Program's Ambassador position for the Turkish language. According to Chris Sorensen, the program assistant for the CLS Program, the selection process was competitive, with more than 40 applications received for 16 ambassador positions.
Derin was not surprised when she found out Ruid received the position. "She's a very positive person," Derin says. "I have no reservations for her in this program."
In Ruid's position, she will act as a UW-Madison campus representative to the CLS Program. She's in charge of creating events around campus to encourage others to apply to the CLS Program.
"If anyone needs help applying to the CLS program, e-mail me or tweet at me," says Ruid.