William & Mary

Three W&M students to study abroad after winning Boren Scholarship

  • Three students standing in front of a brick wall
    Boren Scholars:  (From left) Megan Pierce '19, Shivani Gupta '19 and Kyra Solomon '19 were awarded Boren Scholarships and will study language in foreign nations.  Charles Center photo
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Three William & Mary students received scholarships that will take them overseas in 2019 to pursue scholarly opportunities in the arenas of national security and linguistics.

Shivani Gupta, Megan Pierce and Kyra Solomon — all members of the Class of 2019 — were awarded Boren Scholarships this spring and will receive funding to study abroad in the coming year. W&M alumna Victoria Johnson was awarded the Boren Fellowship —  which is reserved for graduate students — but she declined the honor in order to attend graduate school.

Gupta, Pierce and Solomon are among the 244 undergraduate students nationwide awarded Boren Scholarships out of 851 applicants, according to a press release from the Institute of International Education (IIE). One more student was also named an alternate for the Boren Program, meaning that person is on a wait list in the event a Boren recipient is unable to participate in the program.

The Boren program promotes language, culture and public service by funding scholarly opportunities in foreign countries that are underrepresented in study abroad opportunities.

Award winners are given $20,000 for a six-to-12 month program. Boren scholars are considered critical to U.S. national security, according to Boren’s website, as the program helps develop a pool of U.S. citizens with international experience and foreign language expertise.

In their applications, prospective Boren scholars must relate their international and language study interest to U.S. national security. Each Boren recipient agrees that once their assignment abroad is over, they will work for the U.S. government for one year.

Pierce will spend her 10 months with Boren in Amman, Jordan, where she will continue to study Arabic and learn the Jordanian dialect, too. Pierce is from Richmond, Virginia. After her time in Jordan, she said she plans to work in Alexandria, Virginia, at Booz Allen Hamilton, an IT consulting firm whose clients include all branches of the U.S. Military and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Gupta will be completing the South Asian Flagship Languages Initiative to study Hindi. She will study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for the summer of 2019 and then the American Institute of Indian Studies program in Jaipur, India. Gupta is from Great Falls, Virginia, and said her goal is to become fluent in Hindi and work on topics of gender and education in the field of educational development.

Solomon will carry on her international relations and Mandarin studies in Beijing. She will attend Peking University in the summer and Tsinghua University in the fall. She hopes to become fluent in Mandarin and use the Boren opportunity to better understand China-U.S. relations. Solomon said working in a national security capacity has long been a career goal. After returning from China she said she hopes to work as a foreign affairs policy analyst in the intelligence community.

The Boren awards come on the heels of W&M students receiving Goldwater and Fulbright scholarships. Boren, Goldwater and Fulbright scholarships are all administered at W&M through the Charles Center in Blow Memorial Hall.