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National Fellowships and Scholar Programs

  • Boren Scholarship 2020

Two UofSC Students to Participate in Critical Language Study Abroad with a Boren Scholarship


Three University of South Carolina students, Benjamin “Tyler” Jackson, Aishwarya Somani, and Kathleen Sowder have been offered the Boren Scholarship for critical language study abroad during the 2020-2021 academic year. This brings the total number of UofSC Boren Scholarship and Fellowship recipients to 55. Two additional students, Elizabeth Kapeluck and Skyler Yakes, were named alternates. Our recipients were three of the 217 Boren Scholars selected from a pool of 784 applications nationwide. Due to major programmatic changes cause by COVID-19, Somani declined the award, while Jackson and Sowder are working with both Boren and the Education Abroad Office on modified study abroad plans that follow national and campus directives.

The 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 various agencies within the federal government for a period of at least one year.

Rising junior, Tyler Jackson was a senior in high school when he participated in the U.S State Department-sponsored National Security Language Initiative Youth (NSLI-Y) Exchange Program. It was through this summer exchange program in Mainland China where his love for Mandarin was born. “After this experience I began to dedicate myself to Chinese language and cultural study”, he claimed while reflecting on his language learning journey. An International Studies and Chinese double major, Maxcy Carolina Global Scholar, and student in the South Carolina Honors College, Tyler has a passion for public service and diplomacy. As a Boren Scholar, Tyler plans to study Mandarin intensively at National Taiwan University’s globally recognized International Chinese Language Program.

Kathleen Sowder will be extending her undergraduate career to participate in the Boren African Flagship Language Initiative (AFLI) for French and Wolof. As a Boren Scholar, Kathleen will spend the summer taking intensive French lessons online and will continue her language studies virtually in the fall, and then in Senegal in the spring of 2021. As a Political Science and French double major, Kathleen hopes to use her academic background and Boren experience to work towards a career as a regional analyst for the U.S. State Department. Some highlights of Kathleen’s undergraduate career include working as an Orientation Leader, serving as a Congressional Intern for Senator Tim Scott, conducting research on government accountability under Dr. Tobias Heinrich and Dr. Brad Epperly in the Political Science Department, and studying abroad in Morocco. Kathleen is a Palmetto Fellow, a French department Kyrl Leighton-Faxford de Gavelines Scholarship recipient, and plans to graduate with Leadership Distinction in Civic Engagement. Kathleen’s goals for her Boren studies are to “be fluent in French and have a working knowledge of Wolof, so I can continue to develop relationships with the Senegalese in my next position.”

Boren candidates were supported during the application process by two offices at the University of South Carolina: National Fellowships and Scholar Programs, established in 1994 to assist students applying for national fellowship competitions, and The Education Abroad Office ( Undergraduate and graduate students interested in applying for the Boren Awards should contact IIE at or visit

Students interested in Boren and other national fellowships should contact  National Fellowships and Scholar Programs at 777-0958, or visit us online at  

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