5 WKU students awarded Boren Scholarships
- Author: Office of Scholar Development
- Author: Wednesday, May 1st, 2019
Photo caption: Top row, left to right: Brian Anderson, Alex Banaszak, Austin Barnes. Bottom row, left to right: Ashleigh Cleary, Olivia James.
Five WKU students have earned Boren Scholarships of up to $20,000 to fund up to a year of critical language-focused study abroad. All five students are fourth-year students in the Chinese Flagship Program and Mahurin Honors College and will use their scholarships to fund their Capstone Year abroad in China or Taiwan.
Brian Anderson is an economics, international affairs, Asian religions and cultures, and Chinese major, and the son of Kimberly and Heath of Buffalo. He has previously earned a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study in China. Brian is a four-year member of the WKU Forensics team and is completing his Honors thesis on Chinese President Xi and Chinese-Taiwan relations. During academic year 2017-18, he served as a U.S. Department of State Virtual Student Foreign Service intern for the U.S. Embassy Beijing, compiling economic reports and helping to manage the Embassy Trade and Investment Weibo account. He is interested in the potential of strengthening international trade to enhance American national security and plans to pursue a career as an economic officer in the Foreign Service. He will study at Nanjing University in Nanjing, China.
Alex Banaszak is a graduate of the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Sciences and majors in Chinese and Physics. He is the son of Colleen and Terry Banaszak of Crestwood. He has previously earned a National Security Language Initiatives for Youth Scholarship to study in China. At WKU, he has conducted research in material science and developed a strong interest in environmental sustainability. Alex intends to combine his research interests and Chinese language proficiency to collaborate with Chinese scientists on material science developing new materials and systems such as creating biodegradable plastics for consumer use, enhancing the efficiency of renewable energy sources, and modifying current technologies to become more environmentally friendly and reduce the rate of global climate change. He will study at National Taiwan University in Taipei.
Austin Barnes is a Chinese and military leadership major and the son of Rebecca Wofford of Hodgenville. He has previously earned Benjamin A. Gilman and Freeman-ASIA scholarships to study in China. A contracted ROTC cadet, he will soon commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army. Austin plans to pursue a career as an Army Foreign Area Officer, working in conjunction with the State Department to provide political-military advice, cultural expertise in a military context, and build and maintain relationships with foreign leaders. He will attend National Taiwan University in Taipei.
Ashleigh Cleary is an international affairs and Chinese major and the daughter of Mary and Thomas Cleary of Hebron. She has previously earned a Freeman-ASIA and U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study in China. At WKU, Ashleigh has conducted research on the public and governmental response to the growing visibility of the LGBT community and same-sex marriage in Taiwan, publishing her findings with Dr. Timothy Rich in an article in the Taiwan Sentinel. She intends to pursue a career in human rights advocacy, particularly focusing on the potential of LGBT advocacy to promote democratic norms abroad. She will attend Nanjing University in Nanjing, China.
Olivia James is an international affairs, Asian religions and cultures, and Chinese major from Birmingham, Alabama. Her parents are Kandi and Matt James of Eagle, Colorado. Olivia has previously earned a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study in China. At WKU, she has studied multiple dimensions of human rights in China including the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities. Olivia plans to pursue a career in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor focusing on East Asia and the Pacific and promoting freedom of religion, expression, and press. She will study at National Taiwan University in Taipei.
The Boren Awards program is part of the National Security Education Program (NSEP), which is a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. It 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 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,” according to Dr. Michael A. Nugent, NSEP Director, “is helping change the U.S. higher education system and the way Americans approach the study of foreign languages and cultures.”
Since 1994, over 6000 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.
WKU students interested in studying critical languages and pursuing careers in the federal government are encouraged to contact Dr. Melinda Grimsley in the Office of Scholar Development to discuss Boren Scholarship and Fellowship application processes and timelines.
About the Office of Scholar Development: The Office of Scholar Development is committed to helping WKU students in all majors and degree programs develop the vision, experience and skills to be independent, engaged scholars. OSD welcomes the opportunity to work with students interested in nationally competitive scholarships.
Contact: Melinda Grimsley, (270) 745-5043.