PULLMAN, Wash. - Chinese major John Stark is Washington State Universityâs newest Boren scholar to receive federal funding to study a foreign language abroad. Chemical engineering student Monica Bomber is a Boren alternate who will participate if a scholar drops out. Both are in the Honors College.
Stark, a senior, will further his mastery of Mandarin to fulfill his passion for language and prepare him “to be valuable to the U.S. in areas of defense and diplomacy,â he said. Bomber, a sophomore, will study Swahili while pursuing her desire to design cost-effective water purification plants in East Africa.
Boren scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate college students to study less-commonly-taught languages in about 90 world regions critical to U.S. interests but underrepresented in study abroad. These include Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. Among the nearly 65 preferred languages are Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Swahili.
For 2013-14, 161 of 947 undergraduates applying for scholarships received them; in exchange for the funding, recipients agree to work in the federal government for at least one year.
Boren programs are sponsored by the National Security Education Program and named for David L. Boren, principal author of federal legislation that created the program in 1991. A former Democratic governor and state senator from Oklahoma, he was the longest serving chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence. He is president of the University of Oklahoma and co-chair of the nonpartisan U.S. Presidentâs Intelligence Advisory Board.
Stark began his study of Mandarin/Chinese at WSU; Boren support will take him to the International Chinese Language Program at National Taiwan University in Taipei. A graduate of Newport High School in Newport, Wash., he plans to work in the intelligence community.
Bomber plans to study Swahili at the Knowledge Exchange Institute at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. A graduate of Hudsonâs Bay High School in Vancouver, Wash., she will depart for Tanzania in late May, with or without the Boren funding.
The eight-week summer program will be spent half in language and culture classes and half at an internship with a water resources organization. Creating and protecting sustainable water systems in developing countries is a goal of the U.S. Department of State, said Bomber, who plans to work one day in its foreign service sector as an economics officer.
For more information on the Boren and other prestigious awards, visit the WSU Distinguished Scholarships website at http://universitycollege.wsu.edu/units/distinguishedscholarshipadvising/.