ASU students receive Boren Scholarship to study abroad

Ivan Babanovski

Arizona State University students will live and study in diverse areas of the world as recipients of the 2013 David L. Boren Scholarship for Undergraduate Students.

The scholarship, worth up to $20,000, covers travel to and from the host country, room and board, and study for one year beginning in summer 2013. Scholarship recipients went through a rigorous and competitive process and designed their own course of study based on their goals and interests.

Ivan Babanovski, a junior in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU and a double major in sociology and English literature, will go to Macedonia.

Babanovski, who was born in Macedonia and brought to the United States at the age of two, is a native speaker of the Macedonian language. He will spend a year in the country of his birth perfecting his language skills and preparing an honors thesis addressing the issue of Macedonian linguistic identity via musical folklore.

Babanovski feels his experience as a Boren scholar will help advance his goal of working for the U.S. Department of Defense or the Foreign Service.

“I plan to graduate within two semesters of the completion of my study abroad, and then I will enter law school at an institution such as George Washington University or Harvard, which have concentrations in international law and also offer continuing Macedonian language instruction. I would then like to serve in the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service officer. I am profoundly interested in foreign affairs and how the United States influences global politics and stability. My time studying in Macedonia will prepare me for such a contribution, especially by engaging in issues at the center of cultural conflict in the region. Alternatively, I am prepared to use my language fluency for work in the Department of Defense as an intelligence analyst of Eastern European affairs,” he said.

Leigh Lawrence, a junior double majoring in Chinese and Spanish, will go to China to build her knowledge of the Mandarin language, learn more about the increased trade and investment relationship between China and Africa, and research the effects of China’s cultural expansion into Africa.

Lawrence has her sights set on studying Chinese and French languages and cultures, Sino-African trade and immigration in graduate school.

“With my background in languages and cultures, I feel that this year in China would teach me how to adapt myself fully into any cultural situation,” she said, explaining that she ultimately would like to work in the public diplomacy branch of the Foreign Service or with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as a Foreign Service National supporting missions in places such as West Africa or Asia.

Rebecca Steffens, a senior majoring in Slavic languages and literature and a student in Barrett, The Honors College, will go to Russia to study the Russian language and research the effects of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on non-governmental organizations and international donor agencies on the disabled population.

“More than seven percent of the Russian population fits into the broad category of those with disabilities, and the work of NGOs in addressing the needs of that population has been crucial,” Steffens said. As an honors student at ASU, Steffens is working on a thesis titled, “Deafness and Disability in Putin’s Russia,” focusing on the differences between the disabled culture and the deaf culture in Russia and organizations providing support.  Her experience studying abroad will add a unique perspective to her thesis.

Steffens plans to pursue a master’s in public health at an institution such as the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and work with U.S. international development interests in Eurasia - in particular, the USAID.

David L. Boren Scholarships are sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. Boren Awards provide U.S. undergraduate 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. More information is at