UW–Madison students selected as 2020 Boren Scholarship and Fellowship recipients

UW–Madison students are among those selected as 2020 recipients of the prestigious Boren Awards.

The awards, administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE), on behalf of the National Security Education Program (NSEP), create opportunities for students to enhance their studies of languages, cultures, international issues.

Megan Feeley
Megan Feeley

Two UW–Madison undergraduates were selected as recipients of Boren Scholarships. Megan Feeley, international studies and Russian, plans to travel to Kazakhstan to study Russian. Clarissa Gomez, environmental studies and geography, was also selected for an award, but declined to pursue other opportunities. Elaina Radden, Asian languages and cultures, has been selected as an alternate recipient.

Megan Feeley, who will graduate in May 2021, plans to use the Boren Scholarship to fund the capstone year of the Russian Flagship Program in Almaty. This will be her second time studying in Kazakhstan. She looks forward to returning to hone her language skills through coursework as well as an internship, allowing her to practice Russian in academic, social, and professional contexts.

Feeley noted that her first time studying abroad in Kazakhstan was an enriching experience. She was able to prepare and build close friendships with flagship program participants, as well as Kazakh students studying at UW–Madison from Nazarbayev University.

“Studying in Kazakhstan was amazing,” Feeley said. “It was one of the most memorable experiences in my life.”

Photo taken by Megan Feeley during her first study abroad experience in Kazakhstan.

Since high school, Feeley has planned to pursue career opportunities in the federal government, particularly the FBI, CIA, or Department of State. The requirement that Boren recipients serve for one year in the federal government will allow Feeley to follow her aspirations while making use of the valuable language and cultural skills she has been cultivating through her experiences in the Russian Flagship Program and at UW–Madison.

“It is a prestigious scholarship that I feel honored and lucky to receive,” Feeley said. “I am also excited about the service requirement. I have wanted to work in government since I was in high school, so this scholarship is perfect for me.”

One UW–Madison graduate student was selected as recipient of a Boren Fellowship. Jon Marino, educational policy studies, plans to study Acholi in Uganda. Marino’s proposed dissertation project specifically explores how the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), arguably the world’s largest source of data about early grade reading outcomes, shapes reading instruction across different linguistic contexts in Uganda. The Boren Fellowship will enable him to study Acholi, a language spoken in Uganda’s northern region, and will support his ethnographic fieldwork amongst teachers, students, curriculum developers, and assessment specialists working within an Acholi-speaking context in Uganda.

Two alternates for fellowships were named at UW–Madison, Ariel Borns, educational policy studies, and Tanya Carney, environment and resources.

“We are proud that UW–Madison students have been selected as recipients and alternates of the Boren Scholarships and Fellowships,” said Guido Podestá, vice provost and dean of the International Division at UW–Madison. “These awards provide tremendous opportunities for international engagement and pave the way for these students to build global careers.”

About the Boren Awards

Boren LogoIIE awarded 217 David L. Boren Scholarships to undergraduate students and 119 David L. Boren Fellowships to graduate students to add important international and language components to their educations by studying overseas in world regions critical to U.S. interests. The selected Boren Scholars and Fellows intend to study in 44 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. They will study 46 different languages. The most popular languages include Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, Portuguese, Korean, French, Turkish, and Indonesian. This year, 784 undergraduate students applied for the Boren Scholarship and 268 graduate students applied for the Boren Fellowship. Given the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic, IIE will work flexibly with 2020 awardees to ensure that as many as possible are able to proceed with their overseas language study when it is safe and feasible to do so.

NSEP is a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. NSEP’s Boren Awards program provides 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 the United States.

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,” according to Dr. Michael A. Nugent, Director of the Defense Language and National Security Education Office (DLNSEO), “is helping change the U.S. higher education system and the way Americans approach the study of foreign languages and cultures.”