An Army ROTC Cadet from the University of Virginia has earned a prestigious academic honor.

Emily Morrison has been selected to participate in the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries.

As a precursor to being selected for the yearlong program, candidates are required to submit a research proposal outlining their objectives. Morrison's idea was to study the emerging national identity of the Republic of Tajikistan, one of the 12 former republic's of the Soviet Union that now form the Commonwealth of Independent States.

"I applied for a scholarship in September, and they notified me of my selection about a week ago," Morrison said. "I will leave in August to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, to research the country's search for a post-Soviet national identity."

Her research will include participating in various government-sponsored events promoting Tajik national unity, interviewing cultural, religious and political figures, as well as interviewing citizens from a variety of backgrounds.

After receiving word of her selection, Morrison had trouble holding back the excitement of possibly returning to Tajikistan, where she had conducted a study abroad program for her undergraduate major a few years ago.

"I love the people, the country, everything about it," she said. "I am also excited because I speak the (Persian) language, and this will give me a chance to improve my skills and further study the Taji dialect."

Morrison, who has spent the last four years studying Middle Eastern languages and literature at the University of Virginia, also participates in the university's ROTC program and feels her Fulbright experience will benefit her as an Army officer.

"Once I get back from Tajikistan, I am going to enter the Army as an intelligence officer," Morrison said. "I started studying Arabic when I was 16, and I wanted a career path that would let me use my language skills and allow me to travel. When I came across the Army, it provided both opportunities, as well as having one of the world's best leadership programs.

"This topic was important to me because the Army has been involved in two wars where national identity has played a role in the success of the operations. My Fulbright experience will allow me to serve my active duty service obligation guided by a well-developed understanding of nationalism and the impact that developing a national identity has on cultural and religious groups."