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Six students win coveted Boren scholarships

2021-04-23-Boren Scholarship recipients
Six UNG students won the Boren award in spring 2021. The Boren Scholarship recipients are Meghan McPeak, Dillon Evans, Phillip Ly, Daniel Shearer, and Katherine Torres. The Boren Fellowship recipient is Rhiannon Smith. Both provide up to $25,000 for students to intensively study language and culture abroad.

After studying Chinese for a week in high school, Meghan McPeak wanted to quit. Then something clicked.

"I started to remember the characters. It wasn't hard anymore," said the 22-year-old from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Her affinity for and skill in Chinese led her to the University of North Georgia (UNG) and its Chinese Language Flagship Program, which helped McPeak attain a highly competitive national scholarship. She is one of six UNG students to win a Boren award in spring 2021.

"This award and experience will be a huge step for me to reach my goal of working in national security," said the senior pursuing degrees in modern languages with a Chinese for global professionals concentration and strategic and security studies.

McPeak will study Chinese at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California. She will be joined by fellow Boren award winner Dillon Evans, who met McPeak in summer 2017 at UNG's Summer Language Institute. The two are members of the Chinese Flagship program on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.

"Everything that I have planned for so long now is set in place," said Evans, a senior pursuing a degree in modern languages with a Chinese for global professionals concentration who is a captain in UNG's Corps of Cadets. The 22-year-old from Columbus, Georgia, is also a member of the Honors Program.

The other four Boren recipients are:

  • Phillip Ly, a junior pursuing a degree in strategic and security studies with a minor in Japanese. The 20-year-old cadet from Forest Park, Georgia, will study in Japan.
  • Daniel Shearer, a junior pursuing a degree in East Asian studies. The 23-year-old cadet from Lawrenceville, Georgia, will study in Japan.
  • Rhiannon Smith, a graduating senior pursuing degrees in psychology and modern languages with a Russian language and literature concentration. The 22-year-old from Dahlonega, Georgia, will study Russian for a year abroad in Kazakhstan through the Boren Fellowship program as she begins her master's degree program online at UNG.
  • Katherine "Kat" Torres, a graduating senior pursuing a degree in political science with a pre-law concentration. The 21-year-old from Hoschton, Georgia, will study through the Indonesia Flagship Language Initiative. She is a member of the Honors Program and the first student from the Gainesville Campus to receive a Boren award.

 "We are very proud of all our applicants' resilience, persistence, diligence, and hard work during this challenging application cycle," said Dr. Victoria Hightower, assistant director of the nationally competitive scholarships office and associate professor of history. "Some awardees have applied for this award or others in the past and it is nice to see that their persistence paid off."

Torres is the first UNG student to win the Boren Flagship Initiative award. The Indonesian Flagship initiative invites students to learn Indonesian from scratch first domestically, and then abroad, fully funded.

Smith is also a notable winner, becoming the second UNG student to earn a Boren Fellowship. She plans to enroll in UNG's Master of Arts in International Affairs. Lauren Billet was the first UNG recipient in 2018.

The Boren Scholarship and Fellowship provide up to $25,000 for students to intensively study language and culture abroad. In exchange, students agree to work for the federal government for at least a year and receive coaching and mentoring upon their return to facilitate this objective.

Students interested in learning more about nationally competitive scholarships should contact for more information.

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