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Five FSU students receive prestigious Boren Awards

FSU's 2018 Boren Award winners: (Top row, from left) Mane Grigoryan, Chris Hickey, Trissanne Keen; (Bottom row, from left) Stephenie Reid, Christopher Orr.
FSU's 2018 Boren Award winners: (Top row, from left) Mane Grigoryan, Chris Hickey, Trissanne Keen; (Bottom row, from left) Stephenie Reid, Christopher Orr.

Five Florida State University students will study abroad for up to a year in areas of the world critical to U.S. national security and economic prosperity thanks to prestigious Boren Awards, offered through an initiative of the National Security Education Program.

Four FSU undergraduate students received Boren Scholarships, which provide up to $20,000 for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests and that are underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East.

In addition, an FSU graduate student won a Boren Fellowship, which provides up to $24,000 for overseas study of critical languages.

“We are so proud of our Boren Award winners,” said Joshua Stanek, associate director of the Office of National Fellowships. “Whether their career goals are in diplomacy, economics or music, they are playing a vital role in furthering U.S. connections in the rest of the world.”

Boren Scholars and Fellows represent a vital pool of highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal national security arena. In exchange for funding, Boren Award winners commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.

FSU’s 2018 Boren Scholarship recipients are:

Mane Grigoryan, 22, a senior majoring in international affairs from Ormond Beach, will study Russian and Central Asian history in Kazakhstan. She believes the experience will be a valuable step as she pursues a career in diplomacy.

“I believe there is a huge knowledge gap in America when it comes to the politics and culture of Central Asia,” Grigoryan said. “My hope is that through this opportunity, I will be able to bridge that disconnect.”

Chris Hickey, 19, a freshman double majoring in marketing and Chinese language and culture from Stafford, Virginia, will study Mandarin at Fudan University in Shanghai. Hickey hopes to work for the U.S. State Department, interacting with individuals from all over the world while serving his country.

“During this experience, I hope to become fluent in Mandarin and be able to leave China at the end of the year comfortable with both the language and the culture that is so drastically different than my own,” Hickey said. “I feel that this scholarship has given me the opportunity to make something extraordinary out of my college experience, and I will certainly be making the most of it.”

Trissanne Keen, 20, a senior finance major from Tamarac, will study Twi at the University of Ghana Legon in Ghana. Last summer, Keen had the opportunity to intern in Ghana with the Cheerful Hearts Foundation on a “Stop Child Labor and Human Trafficking Project.” The experience sparked her interest in studying economic development in developing nations across the globe. Keen’s goal is to pursue a doctoral degree in economics to research and implement policies that contribute to sustained economic development in African and Caribbean countries.

“After leaving Ghana, I promised myself that one day I would return,” Keen said. “So, I was ecstatic when I found out that I received the Boren Scholarship. I now have another opportunity to go back to Ghana to study Twi and to be further immersed in the rich history and culture of the Ghanaian people. I was born and raised in Jamaica, and interning in Ghana gave me the opportunity to explore the ties that exist between both countries through the Atlantic slave trade. I also am looking forward to exploring the roots of my Jamaican heritage in Ghana this fall.”

Stephenie Reid, 21, a senior from San Diego, who is majoring in Russian and international affairs, will study Russian in Riga, Latvia, during the spring semester of 2019. She plans to commission as a second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force after graduation and eventually apply to its International Affairs Specialist Program to pursue a career as a regional affairs strategist.

“I am so honored to have received the Boren Scholarship! I most look forward to being able spend my time solely on studying Russian because it is both a passion of mine and a skill I can use to serve my country,” Reid said. “I really hope to accomplish a new level of proficiency in the language and am incredibly excited to explore a region that is underrepresented in American discourse. I cannot express how grateful I am to my family, friends, Florida State University faculty, and Air Force cadre for all their support.”

FSU’s 2018 Boren Fellowship recipient is:

Christopher Orr, 28, a doctoral candidate in musicology from New Holland, Pennsylvania, will study Arabic in Algeria. He said this is a major step toward pursuing a career as a scholar and specialist in North African music and culture.

“I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to live and study in Algeria. During my time abroad, I will develop my proficiency in Algerian Arabic through intensive language study,” Orr said. “I will also conduct ethnographic research with local musicians who perform a genre of Algerian music known as sha’bi. I previously studied this musical practice in France for my dissertation research. Now, I am excited to deepen my knowledge of this tradition as I familiarize myself with Algerian culture.”

Trevor Durham, 22, a senior at majoring in English Literature and Russian, and Emilie Easton, 21, a senior majoring in international affairs and criminology with a minor in Spanish, were recognized as alternates for the Boren Scholarship.

For more information on national scholarships, contact the Office of National Fellowships or the Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards.