This content was published: June 1, 2018. Phone numbers, email addresses, and other information may have changed.

Students earn Russian Critical Language Scholarships, Sylvania staff recognized

Photos and Story by

Four second-year Russian language students were awarded the U.S. State Department’s Critical Language Scholarships (CLS) and will travel to Kyrgyzstan and Georgia, two Russian-speaking countries, for a summer immersion program.

Laila Collman, Zoe Landi Fontana, and Nicole Tracey will spend the summer in Georgia’s capital and largest city, Tbilisi. Jessica Rhee will also travel to a capital – Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The women will leave in June to spend eight weeks in their respective countries for an all-expenses-paid trip.


Zoe Landi Fontana Laila Collman will spend time in Tbilisi this summer.

The four students bring the number of PCC recipients to 16 who have participated in the national program from Portland Community College’s Russian program since 2011.

“Laila, Zoe, Nicole and Jessica are among the most talented students to whom I’ve ever had the privilege of teaching Russian,” said instructor Kristine Shmakov, who is also chair of the World Languages Program. “They are so dedicated to learning Russian and work tirelessly. It’s wonderful to see their hard work pay off with such a huge reward.”

The Critical Language Scholarship Program is a fully funded overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. With the goal of broadening the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and building relationships between the people of the United States and other countries, CLS provides opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the United States at every level of language learning.

In order to be considered for the program, the foursome had to fill out a lengthy application, which included multiple short essays, two letters of recommendations and college transcripts. The students who were chosen also had to have at least two years of prior study in Russian language.

“Not only will they be studying Russian intensively, but they’ll also be learning about Georgian and Kyrgyz culture as it relates to Russian lifestyle,” Shmakov said. “The experience of living in these two Russian-speaking countries that have close relations to both Russia and the U.S. will be very lucrative to all four of these women as they pursue future careers in diplomacy and international relations.”

Sylvania Recognizes Faculty and Staff at Service Awards

A crowd of more than 75 Sylvania and district faculty and staff gathered at the end of May for the annual Allen Epp Service Awards held in the Performing Arts Center Lobby.


Bennani receives her 50-year pin from Math and College Success Dean Tanya Batazhan.

The Allen Epp Service Awards were named after Allen Epp, who was a teacher for 57 years, the last 51 as an instructor with PCC until his retirement from the college in 2006. He was the longest-serving staff member at PCC and the awards were named after him to recognize his outstanding contributions and model of service to PCC and the community. He passed away in 2011.

This year, Sylvania recognized 185 employees from five years of service to 50 years, all amassing a collective 2,330 years of work with the college. Composition and literature instructor Nancy Bennani was awarded her 50-year pin, philosophy instructor Steve Carey celebrated 45 years and Radiography Instructor Gayle Wright earned her 40-year pin.

About Celina Baguiao

A Los Angeles native, Baguiao joined Portland Community College in 2016 as the Community Relations Manager at the Sylvania Campus. Spending her entire career in higher education, she has a background in public relations, athletics and event... more »

Poppie with speech bubble


Sorry, but the comments have been closed. If you see something that doesn't belong, please click the x and report it.

x by wondyirad mekonnen 6 years ago

I Need to get scholarship opportunity please any help