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News Release.

News Release

U of M College of Liberal Arts student wins prestigious Beinecke Scholarship

Linguist Dustin Chacón, who speaks six languages, becomes third U of M student to win award

Contacts: Tessa Eagan, College of Liberal Arts, (612) 625-3781,
Ryan Maus, University News Service, (612) 624-1690,

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (04/20/2009) —Dustin Chacón, an honors student in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities was one of 21 scholars nationwide to be awarded a 2009 Beinecke Scholarship. Chacón, a junior majoring in linguistics, is the third student in university history to win this prestigious national award.

The Beinecke Scholarship Program seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them for graduate study. Each scholar receives $4,000 immediately prior to entering graduate school and an additional $30,000 while attending graduate school.

"My family and I were absolutely ecstatic upon hearing that I received this honor," said Chacón. "It will be immensely helpful in paying for my graduate studies, and it will make all of the difference for us."

Chacón, who is able to converse in six languages and to analyze the intricate structures of at least eight more, began taking graduate-level courses as a freshman and has since advanced to doctoral level linguistics classes. He is interested in Indo-Aryan and Southeast Asian linguistics and the relationship between language and cognition. He is currently studying Hindi and Sanskrit at the university, and he will study Bengali abroad this summer with the support of a federally funded Critical Language Scholarship.

Chacón has received several awards and scholarships, including a National Merit Scholarship and the Bentson and Brundage Family Scholarships. Chacón is currently working with professor Hooi Ling Soh on an Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program project on the structure of noun phrases in Hmong.

A first-generation college student, Chacón grew up in northern California and Rapid City, S.D. He intends to pursue a Ph.D. in linguistics with the support of the Beinecke Scholarship.

“Dustin is an exceptional student and a born linguist,” said Hooi Ling Soh, professor of linguistics and Chacón’s honors thesis advisor. “He is one of the finest students I have ever known, undergraduate or graduate.”

The U of M-Twin Cities was first invited to participate in the Beinecke Scholarship competition in 2003. Since that time, Chacón is the third U student to be awarded a Beinecke Scholarship, following Jeffrey Hunger (psychology) in 2008 and Sarah Hampton (anthropology) in 2006. A campus committee administered by the Office for National and International Scholarships reviews applications from U of M-Twin Cities students each year and selects the U's nominee.

More information on the Beinecke Scholarship is available at

Tags: College of Liberal Arts

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