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6 ASU students awarded Boren scholarships, fellowships

Awards to fund study of world languages important to US interests


Globe with China as the featured country

Image by Suzy Hazelwood via Pexels.

June 15, 2023

The Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement has announced that six Arizona State University students have been awarded David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships.

Sponsored by the National Security Education Program, the Boren awards fund immersive language study in world regions critical to United States interests.

Ranging up to $30,000, Boren awards fund substantial study abroad experiences of three months to a year. For the 2023 cycle, more than 300 students nationwide received undergraduate scholarships or graduate fellowships to study in more than 40 countries.

“Given our strong commitment to public service and our global outlook, ASU has historically been a top producer of Boren winners,” said Kyle Mox, associate dean for national scholarships. “Our missions align very well.”

Of the six Boren award recipients, four are undergraduate students that will receive Boren scholarships of up to $25,000. The awardees are Lili Derby-Lawson, Armando Hernandez and another student who asked not to be identified, who will all study Mandarin Chinese, and Justin Kopek, who will study Portuguese.

Derby-Lawson and Hernandez will use the award to fund their required capstone year for the Chinese Language Flagship Program at ASU, a culmination of several years of intensive language training.

Photo of

Armando Hernandez

“(When I heard the news), I felt very relieved and proud,” Hernandez said. “After years of dedication to learning Mandarin and participating in international affairs courses and programs, receiving the Boren Award was a significant milestone. While I have taken classes in Mandarin at ASU, including the history of China and Chinese literature, being immersed in an environment where Mandarin is the primary language spoken will be a transformative experience.”

The remaining two Boren awardees are graduate students and will receive up to $30,000 as Boren fellows. Benjamin Fosbaugh will study Swahili, and Jessica Sims will study Russian.

The program also provides a pathway to federal employment in national security-related agencies, particularly the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and any of the agencies in the U.S. intelligence community.

Boren scholars and fellows receive professional mentoring and assistance with applying for federal jobs, with the intention of creating a pipeline of talented, committed public servants who are familiar with a wide range of languages and cultures.

“I am pursuing a career focusing on U.S. foreign policy toward Latin America and decided that it would be valuable for me to learn Portuguese as well as become more knowledgeable about Brazil. The Boren scholarship offers me the opportunity to check both of these boxes,” Kopek said.

Photo of

Justin Kopek

Kopek has also been selected for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and will remain in Brazil for an additional ten months as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.

During the past five years, 27 ASU students have received Boren Awards, a sharp increase from the 13 recipients from the previous five years.

“The recent increase in participation in this program is due in large part to the strong partnerships that (our office) has established with the Melikian Center, the Chinese Language Flagship Program, the Pat Tillman Veterans Center and the School of International Letters and Culture,” Mox said.

The next application cycle will begin in October. Current ASU undergraduates and graduate students who are interested in applying should reach out to ONSA to learn about upcoming information sessions and workshops.

Story submitted by the Lorraine Frank Office of National Scholarships Advisement.

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