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2023 Scholarship Recipients


Ben Sommer


Ben is a rising junior at the University of Pittsburgh where he majors in Political Science and German. He plans to complete a minor in Slovak and has been studying the language and culture since September 2022, being of Slovak heritage himself. Ben is looking forward to participating in SLI this summer and to travel to Bratislava for a fully-immersive language experience.

Grace Pawluszka


Grace is a music teacher at a Catholic grade school in the Metro Detroit area. After graduating with her bachelors degree from Central Michigan University, she completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Slovakia as an English Teaching Assistant in Spišská Nová Ves during the 2019-2020 academic year. While in Slovakia, she performed with the Šarišan Slovak Folk Ensemble based in Prešov. In 2018, she attended the Studium Carpato-Ruthenorum at the University of Prešov to learn more about the history, culture, and language of the Rusyn minority group. Her grandfather’s family has Rusyn ancestry and her family still celebrates many of the cultural traditions today. She has visited friends and family in the Prešov area during her several trips to the country. Grace is excited to improve her Slovak language skills at the SLI this summer to make it easier to connect with friends and family and continue studying the rich music of Slovakia.

Grace Pawluszka Photo.png

James Monroe Števko


James is a New York City dancer and actor and has performed at: The Metropolitan Opera, Radio City, The Lyric Opera of Chicago and he made his principal acting debut in the hit Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish. He is applying for Citizenship by Descent as a descendant from Rovňany and Trebostovo and will be entering his second year with the Summer Language Institute. 

Paul Soderdahl


Scott Borgeson


I am a professor of linguistics specializing in phonology at Michigan State University. Slovak forms a core part of my research agenda because of the depth and complexity of its phonology, as well as the rich array of vowel shortening and lengthening processes it displays. I am excited to discover the many things it has to teach us about how sounds are stored and processed in the human language faculty.

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