Four students to study languages abroad with support from prestigious Boren Scholarship

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June 25, 2019

Four Arizona State University students, including three from Barrett Honors College, have received the prestigious David L. Boren Scholarship to study foreign languages abroad in the 2019-2020 academic year.

The four are among seven ASU students who applied for the program. Five students were offered the scholarship. One did not accept the award and one was chosen as an alternate.

“That five out of seven ASU applicants were offered the Boren Scholarship and one was an alternate is a testament to the high quality of our students,” said Kyle Mox, Associate Dean of National Scholarship Advisement and director of the Office of National Scholarship Advisement (ONSA) housed at Barrett Honors College in Tempe.

ONSA assists ASU students who are interested in applying for nationally competed scholarships and fellowships.

The National Security Education Program (NSEP), a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills, sponsors Boren Scholarships and Fellowships. Boren Awards provide U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of our nation. In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients agree to work in the federal government for a period of at least one year.

 “The National Security Education Program is helping change the U.S. higher education system and the way Americans approach the study of foreign languages and cultures,”  according to Dr. Michael A. Nugent, NSEP Director.

This year, the Institute of International Education, which administers the awards on behalf of NSEP, received 851 applications from undergraduate students for the Boren Scholarship and 244 were awarded; 273 graduate students applied for the Boren Fellowship and 106 were awarded. 

Boren Scholars and Fellows will live in 39 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.  They will study 30 different languages. The most popular languages include Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Portuguese, Swahili, and Hindi.

“To continue to play a leadership role in the world, it is vital that America's future leaders have a deep understanding of the rest of the world,” said former U.S. Senator David Boren, the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program and the scholarships and fellowships that bear his name. “As we seek to lead through partnerships, understanding of other cultures and languages is absolutely essential.”

Since 1994, over 6,000 students have received Boren Awards. Boren Scholars and Fellows represent a vital pool of highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal national security arena, and program alumni are contributing to the critical missions of agencies throughout the federal government. An independent not-for-profit founded in 1919, IIE is among the world's largest and most experienced international education and exchange organizations. Undergraduate and graduate students interested in applying for the Boren Awards should contact IIE at or visit

Here is a look at the 2019-20 Boren Scholars from ASU:

Dominique Reichenbach, an international affairs major and a student in Barrett Honors College, came to ASU with the intention of joining the Chinese Flagship program so she could pursue work as a language analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Dominique Reichenbach

Dominique Richenbach



“I feel incredibly grateful to have received this scholarship and also reassured that I am heading into the right line of work,” she said.

“The Boren Scholarship will not only provide funds to complete a study abroad program, but will also provide assistance to obtain a position within the DOD. As someone who will be graduating soon, I feel relieved to know that there will, in fact, be a job out there for me.”

Reichenbach will take Chinese language classes at the National Taiwan University for 10 months. She also will attend classes on subjects related to cross-strait relations between China and Taiwan, and sustainable development.

“I think, too often, the U.S. government is quick to criticize and “otherize” China out of fear that it is a "rising power." This tendency often leads to unnecessarily tense and bitter relations between our two countries. Through this scholarship, I hope to become a language-capable professional with nuanced cultural knowledge that can help demystify relations between our countries and, I hope, make the world of international relations a little less tense in the process,” she said..  

Jacqueline White, a public administration major, said winning the Boren Scholarship “is equal parts thrilling and terrifying” since she will be studying Swahili in Tanzania, an East African country to which she has never been.

White will begin her studies this summer in Florida and move to Tanzania in August, where she will live with a host family.

“How do I feel? Nervous for what is to come, excited for how I will learn from this journey, and above all, grateful for the opportunity to represent ASU and the US abroad in such a fantastic program and country,” she said.

White’s goal is to obtain a master’s degree in international relations or security studies and pursue a career as a Foreign Service officer in the Department of State.

“Since studying abroad in between high school and college, I have been inspired to become a diplomat to represent the US abroad and Boren is a language learning opportunity that will propel my language skills forward and improve my capabilities. Ultimately, this program will allow me to become a greater asset to the federal government as a public servant because of my language capabilities and understanding of the importance of Swahili and Africa in relation to national security,” she said.

Margaret Zheng, a Barrett Honors College student majoring in biology, said she has considered studying abroad in China for several years.

Margaret Zheng



“It's incredibly exciting to have the support of Boren during my time abroad,” said Zheng, who will study Chinese and public health at Nanjing University. She also hopes to research HIV transmission rates and general awareness of the disease among Chinese ethnic minorities in order to create effective sexual health curriculum.

“I would like to work in public health, creating policies and healthcare programs for disadvantaged communities. Having the Boren Scholarship allows me to have first-hand experience regarding the issues I’m trying to address and resources that can help me implement solutions,” she said.

Maria Dooling, a Barrett student majoring in chemistry, will be especially busy during the coming academic year. She has won the Boren Scholarship and a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

Maria Dooling



“I am extremely excited and honored to receive the Boren Scholarship. As with any scholarship or grant, it is an investment in you, which is always an honor,” she said.

Dooling has worked with several refugee-related organizations, such as RISE Tutoring and REACT, an ASU-Mayo Clinic partnership, to provide care to the Phoenix refugee population. Her honors thesis, titled Asylum in the United States and the European Union: Legal and Systematic Challenges from a Decade of Deterrence Policy, allowed her to explore migration and refugee issues in-depth.

 “The Boren Scholarship felt like a perfect culmination to these experiences, as it would allow me to explore similar issues in a critical country, Jordan. The world in increasingly connected and will continue to be so, so this opportunity to observe a different global perspective is extremely important,” she said.

Dooling will spend seven months in Amman, Jordan taking intensive, immersive Arabic language courses and volunteering with non-governmental and refugee organizations.

She plans to apply to graduate programs to study either global health, migration studies or a related field. Her long-term goal is to attend law school to study international law and health law.

“I would love to work for an international or national organization related to global health or migration. I am not entirely sure where I will end up, but both the public and private sector provide opportunities to work on these issues, so I look forward to exploring different options. The Boren Scholarship dovetails with these goals very well, as it allows me to intensively study a critical language in a region of the world that is globally and nationally important,” she said.

After completing the Boren Scholarship program, Dooling will go to Malaysia as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) to teach English in secondary schools for 10 months.

“The ETA grant is a great opportunity to get to know the community you’re placed in and make lasting connections, as you’re working with people every single day,” Dooling said.

“I’m very excited to be able to participate in both Boren and Fulbright. They are amazing programs,” said Dooling, who participated in the 2018 DAAD-RISE study abroad program in Germany.

“Going abroad for longer periods of time can be difficult at times, with culture shock, general homesickness, and other issues, but I’ve had nothing but overall immensely positive experiences thus far.  I love speaking with other people about issues critical to their countries, being engaged in another community, and learning new perspectives. I appreciate both Boren and Fulbright immensely for supporting my endeavors,” she said.

 “I think time abroad always helps anyone’s future goals, as it makes you a well-rounded global citizen. Specifically, for me with my interests in international law, global health, and refugee studies, these programs allow me to engage these issues head on in their own unique ways. In general, these programs allow you to prove that you can work independently, that you take initiative, and that you can respectfully engage other cultures, all of which are assets to whatever sector you enter.” 

Briar Carlile, a Barrett student majoring in computer and information sciences, was offered the Boren Scholarship but did not accept it. Rachael Smith, a public administration major, was chosen as an alternate.




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