Auburn engineering senior awarded Critical Language Scholarship

Published: April 09, 2021

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Michael Norwood, a senior majoring in computer science with the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering and minoring in Asian studies, has been awarded a Critical Language Scholarship, or CLS, from the U.S. Department of State to undergo study of the Japanese language. Originally from Pell City, Alabama, Norwood is one of only a handful of Auburn students to receive this prestigious scholarship.

The Critical Language Scholarship Program is an intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American students enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities. Students spend eight to 12 weeks abroad studying one of 14 critical languages. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. Students roughly gain the equivalent of a year’s worth of language in a condensed, intensive study.

If this was a typical year, the study abroad would likely be done in Okayama, Japan. However, given the travel restrictions in place, the program will instead be done remotely.

“I’m blessed to be afforded the opportunity to continue learning through such a rewarding program, especially knowing how competitive the candidate pool can be,” said Norwood. “I’m not sure if my selection was a result of a typo or a misclick, but I’m grateful for it either way.”

While at Auburn, Norwood was a member of the Japanese Conversation Group and recommends anyone who is curious about the Japanese language to learn more about them.

Norwood attributes his success to his professors and tutors here at Auburn. “Visiting Assistant Professor Chris Kern, from the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures absolutely deserves recognition, if not canonization, for the patience he’s shown in guiding me,” said Norwood. “Another two I’d like to thank are Alexander Pope for his tutoring in addition to Jacob Kronung for keeping me focused.”

For more information on this award or other national prestigious scholarships, contact Alex Sauer, coordinator, scholarship and research for the Honors College at

Submitted by: Wade Berry