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WKU student awarded Boren Scholarship to study in China

J.P. Stovall, a rising senior at WKU from Nashville, Tenn., has been awarded a David L. Boren Scholarship that will fund his participation in the Chinese Flagship Program’s Capstone Year in China.

J.P. Stovall

J.P. Stovall

Beginning in August, Stovall, an international affairs, Asian religions & cultures, and Spanish major, will be enrolled in courses at Nanjing University. In January, he will begin a six-month internship with a Chinese organization where he will work toward achieving professional proficiency in the language.

The Boren Scholarship funds up to $20,000 for up to a year of study abroad in a critical-need country. Beyond covering the cost of the Capstone Year, Stovall said that receiving the Boren Scholarship will help him achieve his career goals with the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service.

“The Boren Scholarship comes with a yearlong service requirement contributing to national security. This includes the career that I have been working towards, and in fact, allows me to skip the first part of the entrance examination for the Foreign Service,” he said. “So I’m essentially being required to go after the job I wanted anyway, and I’ll have the prestige of being a Boren Scholar and assistance during the hiring process. It’s a win-win-win.”

Stovall, a student in the Honors College at WKU, has extensive experience traveling abroad. A two-time winner of the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to China, he is currently studying abroad in Argentina, completing research for his Capstone Experience/Thesis project on political narratives of Argentinean presidents.

“Since I came back to campus from the first time I studied abroad, I’ve always had my eye on the next opportunity,” he said. “They’ve been the most valuable and formative aspects of my time as a Hilltopper.”

Dr. Melinda Grimsley-Smith, coordinator of international scholarships for the Office of Scholar Development, works with applicants for the Boren Scholarship each year. The core of the Boren Scholarship application is a two-part statement of purpose that requires applicants to explain the significance of their proposed study abroad experience to U.S. national security, broadly defined, as well as explain how their program of study will help them achieve their academic and career goals.

“The Boren Scholarship is a natural fit for Chinese Flagship students, many of whom, like J.P., are planning to serve in the federal government in some capacity. It offers an extraordinary opportunity for students who commit to studying Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, Russian, or other critical languages abroad for a semester or longer,” Grimsley-Smith said.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have the support from OSD, the Honors College, the School of Leadership Studies, and the Study Abroad Office,” Stovall said. “Each one has been invaluable in making it happen every time and have been very supportive of me in all the goals I’m chasing.”

About the Chinese Flagship Program: WKU’s federally funded Chinese Flagship Pilot Program is actively redefining the paradigm in language education. The program is designed to bring talented students who start with no knowledge of Chinese up to the Superior level (ACTFL scale) of proficiency by the time they graduate from college by integrating Chinese language instruction at every stage of the undergraduate educational path and incorporating a capstone year at Nanjing University and working in a professional internship. Contact: Melinda Edgerton, (270) 745-5043.

About the Office of Scholar Development: The OSD works with students and their mentors to build research and creative agendas, helps students identify appropriate national and international scholarship opportunities, and provides intensive writing support throughout the application process. OSD staff welcome the opportunity to speak with students about the Boren and other similar programs.  Contact: Dr. Melinda Grimsley-Smith, (270) 745-5043.

Contact: Melinda Grimsley-Smith, (270) 745-5043.

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