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Texas State students receive Boren Fellowships for language study

By Jack McClellan
Office of Media Relations
May 2, 2017

Two students from Texas State University have been awarded Boren Fellowships, which provide funding for U.S. graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests.

Alfredo Ramirez and Kathryn Burns, the fellowship recipients, are graduate students in the International Studies program. The Boren Fellowships will provide funding for both students for the 2017-2018 academic year. 

"Being awarded a Boren Fellowship is an absolute honor and the realization of a dream that was years in the making," Ramirez said.

Ramirez will study Portuguese at the University of Chicago in summer 2017 and at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina in Florianópolis, Brazil, in fall 2017 and spring 2018. Burns will study Arabic through the Kelsey Arabic Program, based in Amman, Jordan, beginning in summer 2017.

"The fellowship will ultimately give me invaluable experience that will move me closer to my goal of working with the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer," Burns said.

David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships are sponsored by 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. 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,” said NSEP Director Michael A. Nugent.

The Boren Fellowship provides up to $30,000 for the academic year. This year, 340 graduate students applied for fellowships. Of those, 114 were selected.

"Alfredo and Kathryn were selected because of the strength of their applications, their superb academic records, their maturity and experience and their major in International Studies, which has long been recognized as one of the top programs in the Southwest," said Dennis Dunn, director of the International Studies program.

Ramirez and Burns are the first Texas State students to receive Boren Fellowships. In fact, 2017 was the first year a Texas State student applied for the award.

"This is the first time in the history of the Boren Awards program that Texas State has had any applicants for the Boren Fellowship," said Andrea Hilkovitz, Texas State’s external funding coordinator for the Graduate College. "As the campus representative for the Boren Fellowship, I am thrilled that two students were awarded fellowships in our first year of competition."

Boren scholars and fellows will live in 44 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, Japanese, Swahili and Korean.

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