maroon wave
Sean DeRepentigny and Lian Peach
Sean DeRepentigny and Lian Peach

SU's DeRepentigny, Peach Selected for Critical Language Scholarship, CLS Spark Program

By SU Public Relations

SALISBURY, MD---While some college students and recent graduates may be looking forward to resting and relaxing this summer, Salisbury University alumnus Sean DeRepentigny and junior Lian Peach are gearing up for linguistic adventures.

DeRepentigny, from Delmar, DE, will spend two months this summer in Indonesia, immersing himself in the Indonesian language as a recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). Peach, a political science major from York, PA, will take online classes in Mandarin Chinese from instructors in China as SU’s inaugural CLS Spark winner.

Sean DeRepentigny

DeRepentigny earned his B.A. in psychology from SU in December. He hopes his experiences in Indonesia will provide him with firsthand knowledge of the country’s role as a hub for refugees and the problems many of them face there.

“I’m really interested in working with refugee issues,” he said, noting that Indonesia’s location, including proximity to Australia, makes it a common waypoint for refugees from the Middle East. “Indonesia plays a key role in that entire system.”

However, once they reach Indonesia, many refugees find it difficult to leave, with waits for resettlement in other countries spanning more than a decade in some cases. (Because Indonesia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, refugees are unable to settle there permanently.)

Following his involvement with the CLS program, DeRepentigny aims to pursue a career with a non-profit assisting with refugee issues, potentially working in research. As part of that goal, he is considering seeking a master’s degree in refugee studies.

Lian Peach

For Peach, the CLS Spark program will provide opportunity to learn Mandarin remotely while earning preference for a scholarship to further her studies overseas in China next year.

“I was adopted from China, but I know none of the language,” she said. “I have both professional and personal goals for this program. I hope to be able to learn about the language and a little more about the culture, and reconnect with my Chinese heritage and identity.”

She learned about the CLS program from Drs. Kristen Walton and Viktoria Basham, director and assistant director, respectively, of the SU Nationally Competitive Fellowships Office.

In addition to the cultural aspect of her scholarship, she also sees the opportunity for practical applications.

“As a political science major, I think this will be helpful in my professional career,” she said. “China and the U.S. are two of the world’s largest economies, and we do so much international trade. We really influence each other.”

That sentiment ties in nicely with the overall goal of the Critical Language Scholarship program, which aims to offer students immersive opportunities to learn languages essential to U.S. engagement worldwide.

CLS Spark recipients have the opportunity to study Arabic, Chinese or Russian virtually at the beginner level before being immersed in the language abroad.

This year’s CLS and CLS Spark recipients were selected from a pool of more than 5,000 applications nationwide.

Students interested in applying for the CLS program for 2025 should email Walton at

Learn more about SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.