In a historic milestone, the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center awarded its 20,000 Associate of Arts Degree in Chinese Mandarin to Airman 1st. Class Keenon Bryant Currier, marking a significant achievement for Currier, but also the Institute and its enduring mission.
Currier, a standout student known for his dedication and academic excellence, expressed immense pride in receiving this distinguished award, stating, “The honor of being a part of DLI’s history is truly remarkable. To me, this represents a milestone for myself, DLI and the hundreds of faculty and staff who have cultivated an excellent academic environment here.”
Established in 1941 as the West Coast Army Language School, DLIFLC has evolved into the premier defense language institution. Originally focused on supporting World War II efforts, it has expanded its curriculum over the decades to include, at times, more than 40 languages critical to national security.
The Institute gained accreditation in 2002, solidifying its status as a stronghold of foreign language education. Its rigorous programs combine language immersion, cultural studies and practical application, emphasizing the strategic importance of language skills in global military operations.
When asked why Courier, who already holds two degrees in anthropology and sociology, chose language as his military occupational specialty, he confirmed, “I have always been interested in the social sciences and culture, particularly cultural and linguistic anthropology. I view linguistics as an excellent way to apply the theories in these fields to practical situations. With language being the combination of communication, culture, history and psychology, I saw studying at DLI as an invaluable opportunity.”
As the 20,000 recipient of an Associate of Arts in Chinese-Mandarin, Currier embodies DLIFLC’s mission of fostering linguistic proficiency and cultural understanding, essential elements in today’s interconnected world.
“Conferring the 20,000 AA degree, with the credibility and prestige attributed to DLI, has enriched the lives of many service members and created endless opportunities for them to achieve success in life,” Currier explained.
DLIFLC’s alumni have served in various capacities, from intelligence specialties to diplomatic roles, showcasing the versatility and necessity of language skills in contemporary security landscapes. Currier is excited about what the future with a foreign language degree could vet him, but he has his sights locked onto his military service.
“After graduation, I will continue my career as a linguist and an Airman, regardless of where I find myself in the future. I am grateful to the Chinese schoolhouse for enriching my life with priceless cultural and communicative skills,” he affirmed proudly.
The Institute, while celebrating this landmark achievement, remains focused on its vital role in preparing the next generation of language professionals for the challenges ahead.