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Three CHASS Students Earn Boren Awards to Study Languages Abroad

Three College of Humanities and Social Sciences students have earned Boren Awards, prestigious scholarships and fellowships that support undergraduate and graduate students studying languages abroad. 

Earning a Boren Award is a competitive process that requires students to make program proposals that immerse themselves in their chosen country. This year, the three students selected from the college are Elliot Gyll, Michael Lewis and Anthony Ramsey. 

The three set aside time to answer questions about their experiences while on their trips.

Elliot Gyll

My majors are in linguistics and neuroscience.

I’ll be taking part in the Boren Scholarship, where I will be living in Tanzania for one year doing Swahili language training.

This scholarship helps me tremendously. My work often requires training in various languages, so having a personalized, resource-rich program that can help me achieve an advanced level in Swahili is a blessing. I’ve worked with Swahili before during my experiences in Kenya and Uganda, though never to the extent that I am currently here in Tanzania.

I plan to work with the federal government in intelligence and foreign service. The Boren Scholarship is designed to help prospective federal agents gain expertise in a specific language(s) or ethnolinguistic groups, so it certainly helps me specialize in East Africa.

I plan to enter the federal workforce after I graduate, ideally abroad. I’m a big fan of solo backpacking, so hopefully I can find time to do so before I start working. Tanzania is my 55th country so far and I’m grateful every day for the opportunities I’ve been able to achieve to allow me to do so. Still, I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m very hopeful regardless.

Michael Lewis

I will graduate next year (2024) from the Master of International Studies program. I have two undergraduate degrees: one in Arabic language and literature studies and the other in political science. I graduated with these degrees from NC State in the spring of 2021.

I am currently living in Amman, Jordan while studying Modern Standard Arabic and Levantine Arabic. I’ve studied Arabic for a total of 3.5 years between my time in undergrad studies and my MIS program. This is my first time visiting and studying in Jordan and the Middle East altogether.

As a Boren Fellow, it is an honor to have been granted the award. I’ve wanted to study abroad for a few years now but having the opportunity to do so with the help of the Boren program has been an amazing experience.

First and foremost, the Boren Fellowship will allow me to focus solely on developing my language skills in an environment where my target language is the primary spoken language. This will do wonders for my language skills all the while providing financial support during my time abroad. Next to that, I’ll be able to culturally engage with a foreign population in a way that not only provides me with new experiences but also will allow me to grasp a more nuanced understanding of the region I live in.

The Boren Fellowship encourages alums to build careers in international relations and service in a variety of fields. This aspect of the program aligns perfectly with my degree program and career goals while simultaneously giving me access to resources that will assist me along the way to fulfilling those goals.

I will pursue an international development career that will focus on using a data-analysis approach. Doing so will help pinpoint vital issues and develop efficient strategies to help improve overall project efficiency.

As a final note, I’d like to thank my mentors who encouraged me to challenge myself and reach for the stars while doing so.

Anthony Ramsey

International studies and Arabic with a minor in French.

Rabat, Morocco. Arabic language and culture.

Receiving this scholarship has meant a great deal to me. Most of all, I would say that it has represented the amount of hard work and persistence that I have put into my Arabic studies despite the challenges I have faced throughout my college career. Although it has taken me three applications to finally receive this award, the ultimate reward is that I finally was able to get it.

I believe that this scholarship will help me further cement my proficiency in Arabic so that I will be able to communicate, read and write better. I know for a fact that I will have to enter the civil or foreign service within the government, but despite that, I believe that I will be able to work with populations that speak Arabic in the U.S. and abroad.

Right now, it is certain that I will have to go into civil or foreign service with the United States government. Following that, I am not sure. I know that I would like to teach English in France for a while and I also plan to apply for the Fulbright, Rangel and Pickering awards for my future graduate studies. Like with Boren, I will apply for these opportunities, and whatever lands will influence my next steps forward.

If any student has a desire to apply for this award, do it. It does not matter the major or the person, if you want to increase your linguistic skills and cultural competence, apply! Along with that, if you don’t receive it the first time, keep trying. Like I said, it took me three rounds to finally be awarded this scholarship and I am more than happy that I never gave up.