St. Paul, Minn. – Gianna Brassil ’20, from San Francisco, Calif., has been awarded a Boren Scholarship. She’ll be studying Azerbaijani at the Azerbaijan Language University in Baku, Azerbaijan, next year for six months on a full government scholarship.

Boren Scholarships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded.

Brassil is pursuing a double major in Anthropology and Religious Studies and says it’s an honor to receive the Boren Scholarship.

“Having participated in the Critical Language Scholarship program this past summer, I am grateful for this opportunity to continue studying Azerbaijani,” said Brassil. “In Baku, I will be able to forge relationships with my host community, challenge my own positionality, and be a resource for Azerbaijanis regarding the nuances of American identity.”

In exchange for funding, Boren Scholars commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation. Brassil’s award amount is $20,000.

Brassil’s Boren Scholarship will begin in January 2019. “I will be taking language courses at the Azerbaijani University of Languages, as well as doing independent research related to my Anthropology and Religious Studies majors,” she said. “I hope to take advantage of the artistically vibrant city of Baku and engage with its music, art, community activism, museums, and culinary culture, among many other things to look forward to.” She would like to keep working on her Azerbaijani language skills and gain advanced proficiency.

Boren Scholarships promote long term linguistic and cultural immersion, and therefore study abroad proposals for two or more semesters are strongly encouraged. Boren Scholarships are awarded with preference for countries, languages, and fields of study critical to U.S. national security.

The program focuses on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security.

It draws on a broad definition of national security, recognizing that the scope of national security has expanded to include not only the traditional concerns of protecting and promoting American well-being, but also the challenges of global society, including: sustainable development, environmental degradation, global disease and hunger, population growth and migration, and economic competitiveness.

Once she graduates, Brassil might apply for a Fulbright award in order to continue forming deep and meaningful connections with the communities in which she’s been a part.

“I hope to keep pursuing opportunities that push the limits of my linguistic and cross-cultural communication abilities.”

After Macalester, she’d like to take some time off from school and possibility explore opportunities teaching, translation, or journalism in either Turkey or Azerbaijan.

This year, the Institute of International Education (IIE), which administers the awards on behalf of National Security Education Program (NSEP), received 794 applications from undergraduate students for the Boren Scholarship and 221 were awarded.

May 11 2018

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