Whiz Kid: Royal Oak Linguist Heading Overseas

Maddie Wilson received a National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship to study language in Russia.

Royal Oak Patch recognizes students doing amazing things in their schools and in their communities. Maddie Wilson has a knack for foreign languages and will attend a special program that takes her to Russia this summer.

Maddie Wilson

Age: Sophomore


Achievement: This Royal Oak resident received a National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship to study language and in live in Russia for the summer. She departs on June 24 for six weeks during which she'll be exposed to 120 hours of formal intensive language learning while also staying with a host family and becoming immersed her in Russian culture.

She was among 3,000 national candidates considered by the The NSLI-Y team, which looks for candidates who are curious, culturally aware, committed, and motivated for language learning, according to a news release. Academic records and recommendations are looked at in addition to application essays.

Key to Awesomeness: Maddie described the interview process as “long and tedious.”  She was asked about her independence, how she would feel about not being able to contact others, etc.

“I think it is a fair measure of the capabilities of a person, to put them in an extrinsic situation and gauge their reaction,” Maddie explains.  “I want to be able to immerse myself [in] something so different from anything that I have ever experienced.”

The National Security Language Initiative for Youth is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and aims to offer language learning opportunities to high school students in languages less commonly taught at school. Scholarships are available for students to study abroad and learn Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Korean, Persian (Tajik), Russian, and Turkish. 

Do you know our next Whiz Kid?

Royal Oak Patch welcomes suggestions for students, youth groups and even sports teams who wow us with their accomplishments. We want to hear about these amazing children and teens. Submit your nomination in our comment box below or email the information to editor Judy.Davids@patch.com. Please include all these details:

  • Nominator's name
  • Whiz Kid's name and age
  • Whiz Kid's school
  • Whiz Kid's accomplishment
  • What makes him or her successful


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