A record number of West Virginia University students have been awarded the prestigious Boren Scholarship enabling them to study languages in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests.
The National Security Education Program offered the scholarships to seven students who will study language and culture in the Middle East, Far East and Eastern Europe. In exchange for funding, Boren Scholars commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation. Only two other universities in the country—American University and University of Maryland—have more Boren Scholars this year.
“We are thrilled for these students, and honored that the Boren selection committees recognized WVU as a top-notch institution by offering this scholarship to so many of our students,” said Amy Cyphert, the director of the ASPIRE Office, which helps students who apply for nationally competitive scholarships like the Boren. “To have seven students offered a Boren scholarship in one year is truly groundbreaking, and reflective of the high quality of our students, programs, and support structures.”
Margaret Budik of Weirton will study Russian for one year in Kazakhstan. The sophomore international studies major plans to work as a Foreign Service officer for the U.S. Department of State or in a non-governmental organization working towards a healthy relationship with Russia.
“The Boren scholarship for me will be life-changing. I am going to see a side of the world that I have never seen before, and be immersed in a culture which is completely foreign to me,” Budik said. “This experience will enable me to learn more about the former Soviet Union, my area of expertise, and widen my perspective on general political, cultural, religious and social spheres.”
Lauren Griffin, a junior international studies and history student from Wheeling, will spend her year in Japan studying Japanese. She had her first taste of Japanese language and culture last summer when she studied there with the religious studies program. She plans to go to graduate school with aspirations to work in international relations.
“I feel like I’ve won the lottery,” Griffin said. “Gaining fluency in any language is an incredibly valuable skill set and living abroad for a year gives me experience I will need in my career.”
This is the second national award for sophomore Clara Haizlett of Bethany. The international studies major also received a Critical Language Scholarship to study in Morocco. After her studies there this summer, she will return to campus for the fall term and then head to Jordan to immerse herself in the Arabic language and culture for a year. Her goal is to pursue a degree in law, focusing specifically in asylum seeking and refugee law.
“With an acquired Arabic language proficiency, I hope to reach and represent a range of asylum seekers from the Arab world,” Haizlett said. “I feel honored and grateful to receive this scholarship.”
Quinn Hartleroad will also study Arabic in Jordan. No stranger to study abroad, the senior international studies major from Parkersburg is also a former Critical Language Scholarship recipient, and has studied in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan. She will pursue a career working on U.S. Middle East policy with the goal of becoming a Foreign Service Officer.
“I am passionate about learning Arabic and about Middle Eastern history, politics, and culture so this scholarship is vital to my career goals,” Hartleroad said. “The federal service requirement is one of the main reasons that I applied for this scholarship, and being proficient in Arabic will likely be a requirement or preferred skill, for many of the jobs I will apply for after graduation.”
Karen Laska a junior international studies and French major, learned about her selection while studying in France this semester. The Wheeling native will return to Europe to study Polish in Poland.
“I would like to become an Eastern European intelligence analyst, with a specialty in Polish security and politics,” Laska said. “I became passionate about studying the language after learning about Polish history and politics in my classes at WVU, and I am so grateful to my professors for their help and support.”
Christina Murray of Fairmont is a freshman political science major who will study Arabic in Jordan. Her goal is to work in intelligence and the one-year federal service opportunity is one of the reasons she applied.
“To be a recipient of this scholarship, especially at such a young age, means so much to me,” Murray said. “This opportunity will enable me to grow as a person in addition to building language and communication skills.”
A seventh WVU student, senior Dillon Muhly-Alexander, was awarded the scholarship but declined to pursue other opportunities.
“The Boren Scholarship is highly competitive with hundreds of applications from across the country,” said David Hauser, teaching associate professor and Boren Scholar advisor. “WVU often has students chosen but the number of awards this year recognizes the strength of our programs especially in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.”
Students who are interested in this scholarship or other nationally competitive awards can contact the ASPIRE Office at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.
Contact: Dr. David Hauser, Boren faculty advisor
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter