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AU Men's Soccer Star Awarded Prestigious Scholarship

By Tom Schad

Jon Freimark, playing defense for AU's men's soccer team, is a recent recipient of the Critical Language Scholarship.

Jon Freimark, playing defense for AU's men's soccer team, is a recent recipient of the Critical Language Scholarship.

Men’s soccer student-athlete Jon Freimark, SIS/BA '11, has made 40 appearances in his career, registering a goal and often acting as the reliable big man that patrols the defensive third. But first and foremost Mr. Freimark is a student, and his remarkable 3.98 GPA in the School of International Service has truly set him apart.

In the spring, the Belle Mead, N.J., native was awarded the Critical Language Scholarship through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, an arm of the U.S. Department of State. As a recipient, Freimark traveled to China last summer and participated in an intensive language program in Nanjing. From June to August, he lived on the campus of Nanjing University, where he was completely immersed in Chinese culture.

The Critical Language Scholarship is nationally competitive, with undergraduates, graduate students, and PhD candidates invited to apply. Only 81 students from around the country were accepted to the program in China, and Freimark was the sole AU student asked to join.

The Critical Language Scholarship is available for studies in 13 different nations, and is fully-funded by the U.S. government. Everything from airfare to living arrangements to food and travel was covered by the scholarship.

Freimark has always felt connected to Chinese culture, as his mother grew up in Taiwan and his uncle still lives in Beijing. In the summer after his junior year of high school, he spent the summer in the Chinese capital, working at a soccer camp helping underprivileged children. Two summers ago, he interned with a group of immigration lawyers building cases for Chinese refugees who came to the United States because of China’s family planning policies.

“Seeing people in poverty and difficult situations really puts things in perspective,” commented Freimark. “I am definitely thankful for what I have here at American to be able to go to school and pursue a collegiate career in soccer.”

At AU, Freimark has been a model student-athlete. He holds a 3.98 cumulative GPA and has been named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll in each of his three seasons. In the past two fall semesters, Freimark has attained a perfect 4.0 GPA despite being in the thick of the soccer season. He is majoring in international studies and minoring in Chinese, and would like to utilize his language capabilities as a future government employee focusing on U.S.-Chinese relations.

"Jon epitomizes the student-athlete we try to attract to our men’s soccer program,” said Head Men’s Soccer Coach Todd West. “He conducts himself with class and style in every endeavor with which he participates. Jon will undoubtedly be a success in the workplace and in life. I am proud to have had Jon in the American soccer program over the last four years and will look forward to following his future successes.”