Carnegie Mellon University
July 31, 2023

Teofanova Awarded Critical Language Scholarship in 2023

By Marissa Pekular

Andrea Teofanova, a 2023 graduate who majored in economics and politics with a minor in Russian studies, has received the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS). Teofanova is studying Russian at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. 

“Receiving the Critical Language Scholarship was always a huge goal of mine, as I viewed the intensively immersive language learning experience to be one of the most optimal ways of gaining fluency in whatever language it may be,” said Teofanova.

Paige Zalman, associate director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development, assisted Teofanova as she drafted her application materials.

"Working with Andrea on her CLS application was a true joy,” Zalman said. “She is an exceptional individual and this experience with CLS will bolster her future studies and career in a truly meaningful way. We are so excited for her and proud to have her representing the Tartan community abroad this summer."

When she is not in class, Teofanova plans to travel extensively throughout Kyrgyzstan while improving her fluency in Russian.

“My goal…is to completely immerse myself in the culture of Kyrgyzstan, from trying all of their traditional foods, to learning a bit of their local Krygyz language, to learning their culture and traditions from my host family,” said Teofanova.

Four years ago, Teofanova moved from her home in Ocean City, New Jersey, to Pittsburgh, to start her education at Carnegie Mellon University and explore the unique opportunities that the university offers.

“I had the flexibility of being able to take courses in multiple majors my first two years at CMU before I realized that pursuing a career within national security was my passion,” said Teofanova.

She supported her career goals by interning with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2022. She plans to continue working for the DOJ in San Diego after completing the CLS scholarship. 

During her four years at CMU, Teofanova was a member of the varsity swim team, rising to team captain during her senior year.

“My parting advice to students at CMU is to take advantage of all the opportunities you are offered… and try to live in the moment as much as you can,” said Teofanova. “I am very thankful to have been able to attend CMU; it really molded me into the person I have become today, and I will miss Pittsburgh so much.”