UF students earn prestigious scholarship for overseas learning
Eight University of Florida students recently earned the prestigious Boren Award to learn languages overseas, making UF the only top 10 public university to place on the Boren Awards’ Top-Performing Institutions list for Boren Scholarships.
The Boren Awards grant scholarships and fellowships to students who would like to study languages and cultures of regions important to U.S. national security interests. After completing a long-term study abroad program and graduating from UF, each student will work for the federal government for one year. Previous to this year, UF’s highest number of Boren recipients was four – in 1994. The achievement represents an emphasis by UF to increase access to high-impact opportunities, like study abroad and second language development, nurturing a global mindset among students.
"Having this many students get the Boren starts with how lucky we are at UF to have so many languages to offer to our students," said Kelly J. Medley, the external scholarship and fellowship coordinator for UF. "It's ingrained into the university culture."
Six UF undergraduates were chosen out of a pool of 784 applicants and two UF graduate students were chosen out of a pool of 119 applicants to learn overseas. These students all worked closely with the UF International Center and Medley throughout the application process for feedback and review.
"As a university, we embrace global learning and culture. But we also have an incredible culture of service at UF," Medley said. "Our students are often interested in learning the language and culture then working for government agencies" like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Peace Corps.
For Nico Huergo, a UF Boren recipient, the scholarship gives him the opportunity to follow in his grandfather's footsteps. After Nico returns from studying in Poland and graduates from UF, he hopes to pursue a career in the U.S. Foreign Service. His grandfather, Marcelo Huergo was a diplomat for the Argentine government.
"I want to do the same thing and serve the U.S. — my country — in that way," Nico Huergo said. "International politics and diplomacy are crucial but also very enjoyable."
He will study Polish for the first time in Poland, but through family trips, already feels like Poland is a second home. "People in Poland love a lot of the same things that people in Argentina love, even though they're on opposite sides of the world," he said. "The people seem to have similar attitudes toward life and similar ways of seeing things. The culture just feels so familiar."
UF’s Boren recipients are:
- Kacey Aukema ‘21, an agronomy master’s student through UF/IFAS who will study Portugese in Brazil.
- Eileen Calub ‘22, a linguistics & international affairs double major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who will study Turkish in Azerbaijan.
- Abigail Dumonceau ‘22, a sociology student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who will study Zulu in South Africa via Boren’s African Flagship Languages Initiative
- Rafael Guerra ‘20, a history major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who will study Portuguese in Mozambique via Boren’s African Flagship Languages Initiative
- Nico Huergo ‘22, a political science and international affairs double major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who will study Polish in Poland.
- Katherine McCall ‘21, an economics major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who will study Swahili in United Republic of Tanzania via Boren’s African Flagship Languages Initiative
- Rayyan Merchant ‘23, a computer & information science and linguistics double major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who will study Tajik in Tajikistan.
- Nicole Picon ‘21, a master’s student of Sustainable Development Practices from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who will study Amharic in Ethiopia
Any undergraduate or graduate students interested in applying for future Boren Awards or other fellowships should contact UF’s External Scholarship & Fellowship Coordinator, Kelly J. Medley, at email@example.com for more information. For the upcoming application cycle, our campus deadline is Friday, January 8, 2021 at 5 p.m. EST. Faculty interested in serving on our campus application review committee can also reach out to Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.