Diqqətəlayiqdir or ‘remarkable’ could be a word to describe the former Richardton student Cheydon Paulson. Paulson made headlines after receiving the Critical Language Scholarship, a scholarship sponsored by the U.S. State Department in which more than 5000 applicants are whittled down to 500 recipients.

The language scholarship is a challenging process, one that sees about 10% of applicants accepted and for a rural North Dakota school like Richardton to have a student selected in no small feat — an example highlighting their strong academic focus.

According to the website, recipients of the scholarship will be immersed in the culture associated with the language they study. For Paulson, that’s Azerbaijani.

However, with a persisting pandemic, Paulson’s travels have been placed on a brief hold.

“(It’s) normally a program where I would be able to travel there, but because of the COVID situation, it’s gonna be online. A little bit of a bummer, but it’s going to be a really good opportunity,” Paulson conceded.

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Despite not being able to be in his country of study, Paulson said he is still excited about learning the new language and culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, the Russian republic of Dagestan to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia and Turkey to the west, and Iran to the south.

Countries, like Azerbaijan, deemed critical for national security and other U.S. interests are highlighted via the scholarship.

Paulson said he hopes to assist the U.S. government in the future through efforts in bringing about resolutions to conflicts all around the world. He said he hopes to seek the well-being and happiness of all.

“In my field...I would do my best to represent our country well...whether I’m in another country and there are U.S. citizens who need my help or it’s speaking to people and share our country with them and helping them out,” Paulson said.

Currently, Paulson studies at the University of North Dakota where he majors in International Studies and double minors in Political Science and Spanish.

Spain is another country and culture near and dear to Paulson’s heart. During his senior year of high school, he was offered an opportunity to travel to Spain. Desiring to graduate early,

Paulson transferred from Richardton-Taylor High School to Dickinson where he graduated in December.

During the spring semester of his senior year, Paulson traveled to Spain where he spent six months being immersed in its language and culture.

“It allowed me to experience a different culture really delve into the language and just really be independent and explore,” Paulson said.

Paulson said after UND, he wants to further his education with a Master’s in International Relations.

In the future, Paulson said he desires to return to Spain as a representative of the United States, whether through the U.S. Foreign Service or as a diplomat.