Cheyden Paulson of Richardton, N.D., wins national scholarship

University of North Dakota freshman Cheyden Paulson of Richardton, N.D., has won a U.S. State Department-sponsored scholarship to study Azerbaijani. Closely related to Turkish, Azerbaijani is a language spoken in many of the countries bordering the Caspian Sea, including millions of speakers in Iran.

As a member of the Richardton-Taylor High School speech team in 2019, Paulson competed in the National Speech and Debate Association’s national championship in Dallas, Texas. At UND, he’s planning to double-major in political science and international studies and minor in Spanish.

The Critical Language Scholarship that Paulson won is a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. Each summer, CLS provides rigorous academic instruction in 15 languages that are critical to America’s national security and economic prosperity.

“Cheyden has a remarkable sense of adventure,” said Yee Han Chu, Academic Support and Fellowship Opportunities Coordinator at UND.

“In early 2020, before the pandemic hit, Cheyden, just 18, braved living on his own, leaving his small town of Richardton, N.D., to study Spanish in Málaga, Spain. Then while other students returned home when the pandemic hit, Cheyden stayed behind to learn the language and understand the culture, as he intended.

“Cheyden is a gifted learner of languages and has a clear professional purpose to work in the federal government,” Chu continued. “I am just delighted that a student so young, but already so talented has caught the eye of national evaluators.”

Said Paulson himself, “I am so incredibly grateful and excited for the opportunity that is the Critical Language Scholarship. Not only am I excited to represent UND, but this scholarship will also help me to realize my goal of one day representing the United States by working for our government in the realm of diplomacy and foreign service.”

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