Two IU School of Global and International Studies students have earned the prestigious Boren Scholarship, funding a year of study abroad. Casey Vaughn, a senior majoring in Central Eurasian Studies and Economics, and Neeli Southwick, a senior majoring in International Studies, Central Eurasian Studies, and Criminal Justice, are recipients of the 2016-2017 National Security Education Program Boren scholarship. They are the only two IU Bloomington students selected for the Boren award this year.
The Boren Scholarships offer funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to add an important international and language component to their educations. They focus on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad. According to Boren, the program is “guided by a mission that seeks to lead in development of the national capacity to educate U.S. citizens, understand foreign cultures, strengthen U.S. economic competitiveness and enhance international cooperation and security.” Boren Scholarships provide funding of up to $20,000 for an academic year abroad. In exchange, Boren Scholars commit to working in the federal government for at least a year after graduation.
Both Vaughn and Southwick are participating in the Turkish Flagship Program based at SGIS and both plan to study in Turkey starting in the fall and lasting through the spring. Each is awaiting their exact placement in the country; both were planning on studying in Ankara, but recent security concerns in the Turkish capital have forced organizers to look toward different areas of Turkey.
Southwick said she’s looking forward to an immersion in the Turkish language. She will be taking advanced university coursework in Turkey on language and culture focused on gaining professional proficiency. She said the requirement to work for the federal government wasn’t a problem for her, since that is directly related to her career goals.
“I would like to start out working as a language analyst or doing interpretation or something like that,” Southwick said. “Eventually, I would like to move up and work with security issues. I’m especially interested in transnational crime—drug trafficking and human trafficking particularly.” Southwick added that the Boren Scholarship gives her a big heads-up for her professional goals.
Vaughn has had the Boren Scholarship in her sites for some time, particularly because she also feels it’s a big professional boost. “Winning the Boren means a lot to me, particularly because it’s been something that I’ve wanted to win for the past couple of years since starting in the Turkish Flagship,” Vaughn said. “I have multiple friends who have been Boren Scholars and have encouraged me thoruhg the process. After a very lengthy and strenuous application process, finally I’m seeing that hard work come to fruition. It’s really rewarding.”
The SGIS students landed the award following a very competitive process. This year, the Institute of International Education, wich administers the awards on behalf of NSEP, received 820 applications from undergraduate students for the Boren Scholarship and just 165 were awarded. Boren Scholars and graduate students who earned the Boren Fellowship will live in 41 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. They will study 36 different languages. The most popular languages include Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Portuguese, and Swahili.