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Dual-enrolled student named semifinalist for national language program

2020-02-26-Dessie-Durham
Dessie Durham is a semifinalist for the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y). The program funds high school students to spend up to a year abroad studying a critical language.

In high school, Dessie Durham wanted an academic challenge. So, she dual-enrolled in classes at the University of North Georgia (UNG).

Since then, Durham has thrived. In May, the senior at Dawson County High School will earn her associate degree before her high school diploma.

Now, Durham wants another challenge. The 18-year-old from Dawsonville, Georgia, wants to spend a year studying Arabic in Jordan. She is one step closer to attaining that goal.

Durham is a semifinalist for the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y). The program funds high school students to spend up to a year abroad studying a critical language.

"It's very exciting to have gotten this far," Durham said.

She enrolled in UNG's six-week Summer Language Institutes (SLI) in 2019 to earn eight academic credit hours in Arabic.

"I fell in love with the language," she said.

Durham credits Awad Awad, program director of Arabic study abroad and coordinator of Arabic SLI, with encouraging her to apply for NSLI-Y and providing insight about the culture.

"He was really big into sharing the culture aspect of Arabic," she said. "It's nice to hear about the language and the culture and religion and the humanity behind it."

Durham will learn in April if she wins the scholarship.

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