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Six students earn Boren awards to study abroad

Six students from the University of North Georgia (UNG) have won Boren awards to study abroad, including the first UNG graduate student to apply for a Boren Fellowship and the first UNG student to win a Boren STEM Summer Initiative.

LaurenBillett
Billet, far left, is the first-ever UNG recipient of a Boren Fellowship for graduate students.

"The Boren Awards are highly competitive scholarships and this year shows that our students are up to the challenge. We worked with really well prepared, high caliber students and we are proud of every applicant's hard work and dedication," Dr. Victoria Hightower, assistant director of nationally competitive scholarships, said. "We are also grateful to the language faculty who encouraged the students, discussed context with them, and instilled in them confidence to submit applications. Our students' success in this award shows that UNG is preparing our students to be competitive global leaders."

David L. Boren Scholarships are funded by the U.S. Department of Defense's National Security Education Program and are worth up to $20,000 and the fellowships are up to $30,000 for a recipient to spend up to a full academic year studying abroad. Boren Scholarships provide undergraduate students with the resources and encouragement they need to acquire skills and experiences in areas of the world critical to the future security of the nation. They receive the scholarship in exchange for their commitment to seek work in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.

Five of the six recipients will be studying Arabic in the Middle East during their study abroad.

"We are incredibly proud of our students," Awad Awad, lecturer of Arabic, said. "Our Arabic program develops language, cultural understanding, and intercultural communication while instilling motivation and integrating new research in the field. In doing so, we prepare and champion our students to apply for competitive scholarships and study abroad programs."

The recipients are:

  • Madelyn Beacham, of McDonough, Georgia, a sophomore double majoring in Arabic and international affairs with a concentration in the Middle East who will be studying in Jordan.
  • Lauren Billet, of Columbus, Georgia, a graduate student in the Master of Arts in International Affairs program who will be studying Arabic.
  • Hannah Coltrain, of Canton, Georgia, a junior biology major with a criminal justice minor who will do the Boren summer STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiative and studying Arabic in Jordan.
  • Tyler Hollman, of Gainesville, Georgia, a junior double majoring in Arabic and Spanish with a minor in cybersecurity who will be traveling to Oman.
  • Jacob Malimban, of Cumming, Georgia, a junior computer science major with a minor in cybersecurity who will be traveling to Japan.
  • Roderick Selman, of Armuchee, Georgia, a sophomore cadet majoring in Arabic with a minor in international affairs who will be studying in Jordan.

Billet is the first-ever UNG recipient of a Boren Fellowship for graduate students, which provides unique funding opportunities for U.S. graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad.

"The honor is one that I share with Dr. Anastasia Lin (assistant vice president, research and engagement), my friends, my family and my mentors – all of whom helped me succeed in winning this fellowship," Billet said. "I immediately called everyone who fits into those categories and told them the news; sharing the news and excitement with them was the best part of winning."

After the Boren Fellowship, Billet plans to attend law school and eventually practice international law with a concentration in human rights, focusing on helping Arab countries.

"Having this award will provide me with the necessary Arabic skills required to succeed in working in or with Arab states or Arabic speaking persons in addition to granting me the ability to spend time in country to learn other skills and make valuable personal and professional connections," Billet said.

Coltrain will be studying Arabic language and culture for eight weeks in Jordan through Boren's STEM initiative, a special initiative for undergraduate STEM majors. The scholarships fund up to $8,000 for summer study for students majoring in the STEM fields. Coltrain hopes eventually to work with a national health organization.

"I hope to fulfill the service requirement of a Boren Scholar by working with the Centers for Disease Control, or even with the National Institutes of Health, in epidemiological response and analysis," Coltrain said. "Finding a connection between my passions for pathology and public service has been a large part in my interest in the Boren STEM initiative."

Beacham, who began learning Arabic after volunteering with the organization World Relief, will be studying in Jordan during the summer and fall, including an internship opportunity.

"The refugees I met inspired me so much and made me want to take an active, pragmatic role in the current ongoing Syrian refugee crisis," Beacham said. "Although I don’t know what I want my long term career to be, I know I want to be able to communicate sufficiently in Arabic and this study abroad opportunity is a vital step to that goal."

This year, UNG also has been named by the U.S. Department of State as one of the top-producing schools of Fulbright grants and Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships. UNG had eight students awarded Gilmans in 2016-17 and another eight in 2017-18. Additionally, during the 2017-18 academic year UNG students have won a number of prestigious national scholarships including Goldwater Honorable Mention, Project Global Officer (GO) scholarships, Newman Civic Fellowships, and Critical Language Scholarships.

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