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Discover your options: Educational and career pathways for students with advanced language and cultural skills

With more than 150 students attending the University of Utah who are graduates of the Bridge Program for Advanced Language Learning — an advanced language program for Utah high school students to earn college credit before graduation — the U offers a number of opportunities for students to advance and apply their language skills in academic and career settings.    

To learn more about the options available to them, the Second Language Teaching and Research Center – which administers the state-wide Bridge Program – will hold an event on Thursday, Sept. 29 from noon-1:30 p.m. in LNCO 2110 to inform students about the variety of degrees, interdisciplinary courses, scholarships and internship opportunities available utilizing advanced language and cultural skills. Students will also be able to meet with advisors and representatives from World Languages and Cultures, the Asia Program, International Studies, Latin American Studies, Culture and Language Across the Curriculum, Learning Abroad and the Hinckley Institute.

“The U serves as the administrative hub for the state Bridge Program and its team,” said Jill Landes-Lee, state director for the Bridge Program. “We facilitate statewide teams of faculty to develop course curriculum, host professional workshops and coaching on research-based teaching practices for language acquisition, promote teacher leadership for excellence in language education and facilitate partnerships between Utah’s six public universities and their local high schools. Holding this reception for Bridge Program graduates is why we are here—to celebrate and continue to promote academic and career opportunities for multilingual students through these unique partnerships between higher education and high schools.”

With their unique skillset, Bridge students have many options available to them at the U, especially when it comes to degrees. Many students arrive at the U having already earned nine college credits and some choose to major or minor in their respective language of Chinese, French or Spanish. Additionally, students may choose to pursue degrees in Asian Studies, Latin American Studies and International Studies. Other options with great career value are to add a language major or minor to a science, engineering, business or humanities degree and to engage in a local, national or international internships applying their skills.  

Bridge graduates’ language proficiency and advanced cultural knowledge strongly align with the university’s core values of fostering student success (many Bridge students are heritage language speakers and/or the first generation to attend college), generating knowledge, engaging communities, and ensuring the vitality of the university.

“Ideally, this large cohort of advanced language and culturally proficient students will further incentivize the university to increase the number of internships that have a language component, both locally and abroad, create dual degrees with languages and other disciplines and increase the number of offerings of courses that focus on languages for specific purposes, for example,  Chinese for business, Spanish for health-related professions, etc.,” said Fernando Rubio, director of Second Language Teaching and Research Center. 

The current cohort of Bridge program graduates attending the U have proficiency in Chinese, French and Spanish. However, in the coming years, the cohorts will also include Portuguese, Russian and German speakers. 

About the Bridge Program

The Bridge Program offers an advanced language pathway for high school students who have passed the advanced placement language and culture exam, “bridging” the gap between completion of the exam and higher education. Students begin upper division university language course work in high school, where each three-credit college course extends over a full academic year of high school. This rigorous and supportive environment establishes a university and career pathway in two languages and seeks to promote access to bilingual, biliterate and bicultural citizenship in Utah.