Pushkin Summer Institute Launches Pushkin Scholars Program

The Pushkin Summer Institute (PSI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison announces the inaugural “Pushkin Scholars” program for prospective UW-Madison first-year students who will be applying for admission in fall 2017. Eligibility is limited to alumni of the Pushkin Summer Institute, which just completed its fifth summer. Although students will need to go through the standard UW admissions process, those who are accepted will receive priority consideration for financial support if they plan to continue their study of Russian at UW-Madison. They will also be encouraged to join the Russian Flagship Program. This represents an expansion of PSI, which partners with high schools in Chicago, Illinois and Anchorage, Alaska.

PSI on a trip to Picnic Point
PSI on a trip to Picnic Point. Photo credit: Elisia Cintron

Through the intensive study of Russian language, culture, and civilization, the Pushkin Summer Institute aims to improve students’ Russian language abilities and cultural competence; stimulate their interest in Russian studies; build lifelong critical thinking, reading, and writing skills; and prepare students, most of whom are first-generation college-bound students, for the demands of university life.

PSI began in 2012 with a six-week summer program on the UW-Madison campus. Since its inception, the program has attracted Russian learners from partner high schools who are between their junior and senior years and who want to come to Madison to study Russian language and culture more intensively. To date PSI has partnered with Noble Street College Prep and Pritzker College Prep in Chicago, Illinois and with Anchorage West High School in Anchorage, Alaska. Since 2014, the Madison program has received generous support from STARTALK. In summer 2015, PSI added a study abroad component targeted to graduates of the domestic program. Pushkin Summer Institute Abroad offers students from the partner high schools the opportunity to study Russian in an immersion setting in Daugavpils, Latvia. PSI Abroad receives support from the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), which is funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs. In summer 2017, PSI will add The Noble Academy in Chicago, Illinois as its newest partner.

Photo credit: Elisia Cintron
Photo credit: Elisia Cintron

Also beginning in 2017, PSI will offer Pushkin Scholar awards to high-achieving participants of PSI planning to continue their Russian studies at UW-Madison. “We hope to continue encouraging these outstanding students to become proficient in Russian and start on interesting career paths,” explains Professor David Bethea, academic director of PSI. The Pushkin Scholar program will be administered through the Office of Admissions and Recruitment and the Office of Student Financial Aid at UW-Madison and will attempt to meet the financial need of the top graduates of PSI. Nineteen high-performing students who completed the 2016 domestic summer program at UW-Madison have been invited to apply to be Pushkin Scholars. The first cohort of Pushkin Scholars will join UW-Madison in the 2017-2018 academic year. “By seeing to their financial situations as first-generation college students in a more concerted way, we can hopefully create a new stream of dedicated ‘Russianists’ from groups of kids who hitherto have been virtually unrepresented,” says Bethea.