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Speaking their language: Undergraduate students earn Boren Scholarships

Three Florida State University students are set to spend a year abroad in world regions critical to U.S. interests thanks to prestigious David L. Boren Scholarships.

Seniors Cecilio Moreno and Jesse Marks, and junior Mia Concilus were three of 171 undergraduates nationally to earn Boren Scholarships.

Boren Scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. The students will gain valuable foreign language and cultural skills during their year abroad.

“Having three students recognized as Boren Scholars this year demonstrates Florida State University’s commitment to educating global citizens who are committed to making a positive impact,” said Craig Filar, director of the Office of National Fellowships. “Jesse, Mia and Cecilio will be traveling across the globe to study their respective languages, embodying the qualities that Boren envisioned for this program. They will represent both our country and our university as critical thinking ambassadors with a passion for creating international cooperation and collaboration.”

 

Cecilio Moreno
Cecilio Moreno

Moreno, who was born in Venezuela and moved to Miami as a baby, will study Portuguese in the Brazilian cities of Florianópolis and Rio de Janeiro. The international affairs and political science major is interested in a career infrastructure development in developing countries. Already fluent in Spanish and Italian, Moreno hopes to live and work in Latin America after graduation.

“Brazil is a great fit for what I want to study,” Moreno said. “I want to learn about the international development models Brazil used in business and education and take them to the rest of Latin America. Brazil is the perfect example of a country that has gone from being underdeveloped to being on the right track to development. Learning Portuguese will round out my language experience and knowledge of South America.”

 

Jesse Marks
Jesse Marks

Marks, a Middle Eastern studies major from Jacksonville, Fla., will spend the year in Jordan studying Arabic. He has visited the region three times (2010, 2011, 2012) to work with Iraqi refugees and he is the second person in his family to receive a Boren Scholarship. His sister Madison won the award in 2011 and spent the year in Jordan. After a trip to visit his sister, he returned to Florida and worked with refugee resettlement organizations in Jacksonville and later in Tallahassee. He also will intern at the U.S. State Department this summer to conduct international refugee research.

“While in Jordan, I heard many stories from Iraqi refugees about their experiences in their home country,” Marks said. “This is where I developed a desire to work with refugees, provide a future for them and pursue a career in refugee development. Through working with resettlement organizations, I learned more about the culture of refugees I worked with and their plight. I decided to come to FSU to study Arabic; we have the best program in the state so it was a very easy choice. My experiences with refugees and my experiences at Florida State University are what led me to apply for the Boren Scholarship.”

 

Mia Concilus
Mia Concilus

Concilus, a double major in environmental science/policy and international affairs, will travel to China to study Mandarin at Shanghai University. Concilus, who lived in Unalakleet, Alaska, before moving to Florida, has plans of a career developing environmentally friendly institutions and would like to work with the Environmental Protection Agency in the future.

“I’m thrilled for a cultural experience and all the things I can learn from that,” Concilus said. “I’m really excited to take it all in. It will be a lot different than anything I’ve done before. My studies will focus on how our international economic system can truly benefit from effective communication, cultural understanding and awareness of our environment.”

Boren Scholarships for undergraduate students are sponsored by theNational Security Education Program, a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. The awards are administered through theInstitute of International Education on behalf of the NSEP.