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National Fellowships and Scholar Programs

  • Boren and CLS 2018

Six UofSC Students Awarded Critical Language Scholarships from Boren and CLS


Four USC students have received the Boren Scholarship for 2018-2019, out of 221 awards given nationally.  Rising senior Michelle Atwood has been awarded the scholarship for her upcoming year in Osaka, Japan to study Japanese, while rising sophomore Katie Rose Dionne has been awarded the scholarship to study Mandarin in Hong Kong, China for the upcoming year. Senior Adriana Bowman and rising junior Anna Sheppard have received awards as part of the South Asian Flagship Language Initiative, Adriana for Hindi and Anna for Urdu.  They are both studying at the University of Wisconsin, Madison this summer, and will spend the fall in India.  Adriana will also stay in India for the spring semester.  This brings the total number of USC Boren Scholarship and Fellowship winners to 51.

Two students have been awarded Critical Language Scholarships to undertake intensive language study abroad. May 2018 graduate Samuel Breazeale will study Russian in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and rising junior Helen Loaiza will study Chinese in Dalian, China. This brings USC’s total of CLS award winners to 23 since it was established in 2006.  Sam and Helen join approximately 550 competitively-selected American students at U.S. colleges and universities who received a CLS award in 2018.

David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships are sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. Boren Awards provide U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of our nation. In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients agree to work in the federal government for a period of at least one year. “The National Security Education Program,” according to Dr. Michael A. Nugent, NSEP Director, “is helping change the U.S. higher education system and the way Americans approach the study of foreign languages and cultures.”

“To continue to play a leadership role in the world, it is vital that America's future leaders have a deep understanding of the rest of the world,” says University of Oklahoma President David Boren, who as a U.S. Senator was the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program and the scholarships and fellowships that bear his name. “As we seek to lead through partnerships, understanding of other cultures and languages is absolutely essential.”

Since 1994, over 6,000 students have received Boren Awards. Boren Scholars and Fellows represent a vital pool of highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal national security arena, and program alumni are contributing to the critical missions of agencies throughout the federal government. An independent not-for-profit founded in 1919, IIE is among the world's largest and most experienced international education and exchange organizations. Undergraduate and graduate students interested in applying for the Boren Awards should contact IIE at or visit

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. CLS scholars gain critical language and cultural skills that enable them to contribute to U.S. economic competitiveness and national security. CLS provides scholarships to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to spend eight to ten weeks overseas studying one of 14 critical languages. The program includes intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains. CLS scholars are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future careers.

CLS plays an important role in preparing U.S. students for the 21st century’s globalized workforce, increasing American competitiveness, and contributing to national security. CLS scholars serve as citizen ambassadors, representing the diversity of the United States abroad and building lasting relationships with people in their host countries. CLS participants represent a broad diversity of backgrounds and perspectives. CLS actively recruits in states and regions of the United States that have been historically under-represented in international education. Recipients of the 2018 CLS awards include students from over 230 institutions of higher education across the United States, including public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, minority-serving institutions, and community colleges.

Since 2006, CLS has awarded scholarships to more than 5,700 American students to learn critical languages around the world. CLS scholars are among the more than 50,000 academic and professional exchange program participants supported annually by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. These exchange programs build respect and positive relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The CLS program is administered by American Councils for International Education.

For further information about the Critical Language Scholarship or other exchange programs offered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please contact and visit our websites at and


Atwood is a rising senior majoring in International Studies and minoring in Japanese. Michelle is a Capstone and Palmetto Fellows Scholar. She is involved on campus as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and as co-founder and Vice President of USC’s Silver Wings chapter. She plans to pursue a career in U.S. national security. She will spend the next academic year at Kansai University in Osaka, Japan studying Japanese.

Bowman is a senior in the South Carolina Honors College, where she majored in Economics with minors in Chinese and Political Science. She is an Opportunity Scholar and Ronald E. McNair Scholar, as well as a recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship and the Critical Languages Scholarship, both for study in China. She was also named a 2018 finalist for the Payne International Development Fellowship. Adriana plans to become a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Foreign Service Officer. Bowman will spend a semester at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Jaipur, India and a semester at Christ University in Bangalore, India to study Hindi.

Breazeale is a 2018 graduate of USC, where he majored in Public Health and minored in Russian. Samuel pursued independent study with Dr. Judith Kalb on the connections between the American South and the Russian Orthodox Church. Following his summer with the CLS, he will move to Vladimir, Russia, where he will study Russian and teach English. Breazeale aims to become a journalist.

Dionne is a rising sophomore in the South Carolina Honors College, where she majors in International Business and Chinese Enterprise and minors in Chinese Studies. A 2018 semi-finalist for the Critical Languages Scholarship, Katie also won second place in the 2018 Chinese Bridge Language Competition and first place in the 2018 Palmetto Chinese Star Competition. Before coming to USC, she was a recipient of the Girl Scouts National Young Women of Distinction Award, the Congressional Gold Award, and President Barack Obama’s Volunteer Service Award, in addition to spending an academic year in Beijing, China through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarship. She is involved on campus with the Close Family Emerging Leaders Program and Face to Face, and as a member of the International Business Student Advisory Council. Dionne is a volunteer English teacher and enjoys Chinese martial arts, intramural tennis, and swing dancing. Katie will spend next academic year at the Chinese University of Hong Kong studying Mandarin.

Loaiza is a rising junior majoring in Marketing, with minors in Chinese and Anthropology. A Palmetto Fellows Scholar, Helen is also the recipient of a Hispanic-American Women’s Association Scholarship and USC’s Dean’s Scholarship. At USC, she is involved with Chinese conversation hour, and serves as the President of Latin Dance Club and the Secretary of Students for Justice in Palestine. She aims to become a marketing researcher for a non-profit organization. Loaiza will be participating in Mandarin study in Dalian, China.

Sheppard is a rising junior in the South Carolina Honors College majoring in Public Health. A Magellan Scholar, Anna will conduct research with the Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior department upon her return from India. She is a member of Omega Phi Alpha Service Sorority and co-coordinated the 2018 It’s On Us Kickball Tournament to benefit Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands. Anna also serves as a Supplemental Instructor at USC’s Student Success Center. Sheppard plans to to join the Peace Corps and go into humanitarian work through either the government or a non-profit organization. She will spend the fall at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Lucknow, India learning Urdu.


Boren candidates were supported during the application process by two offices at the University of South Carolina: the Study Abroad Office ( which assists Carolina students in pursuing education overseas, and the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs (, established in 1994 to assist students applying for national fellowship competitions.  To visit and to access the Boren website, visit

Students interested in Boren, CLS, and other national fellowships are assisted by the Office of Fellowships & Scholar Programs. For more information contact the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs at 777-0958, or visit us online at


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