Boren scholars to study in Morocco, Jordan


Two UNL students have received Boren scholarships. Stephanie Booth of Bellevue will travel to Morocco and Zach Smith of East Troy, Wis., will study in Jordan.

In Morocco, Booth, a sophomore international studies major, will study Arabic and French, and take political science and history courses about North Africa. Although her career goals are still up in the air - medical school or working for the U.S. government are options on the table - she is confident that her time abroad will prove invaluable.

"As cliche as it sounds, I want to make a difference in the world," she said. "I have to work hard to be considered one of the best so I can enter a profession where I can make that difference. My friends and family have always helped in either supporting me or providing friendly competition so that I keep working hard."

The National Security Education Program Boren scholarships support study abroad in all regions or countries except Western Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The focus of the program is on geographical areas, languages and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security. The scholarships provide up to $10,000 for a semester-long study abroad program and up to $20,000 for a year-long study abroad program. Awards are given to juniors and seniors, to increase their knowledge of and competencies in other languages and cultures and to freshmen and sophomores to foster their interest in international affairs.

Smith is a sophomore majoring in vocal music performance and political science. He will travel to Amman, Jordan, for six months later this year. His Boren scholarship will fund his study of Arabic language and international relations in a program run by the Council on International Educational Exchange.

"Jordan is an optimal study-abroad environment; it is in the archeological and political heart of the Middle East, close to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the classes offered are superb and exactly suited to my major," Smith said.

At UNL, he has worked closely with political science professor Michael Wagner in the Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experiences program.

"I work with Dr. Wagner on religion and political behavior, conducting focus groups and doing a lot of transcription work," Smith said. "Working with him has given me a great understanding of a research lifestyle and help in preparing my own project, which will be conducting focus groups in Jordan on Islam and political behavior, then returning here to put the two years of data on Christianity and Islam into a comparative assessment."

Smith said he believes his study abroad will position him well to pursue his career goals of working in the foreign service or intelligence community.

- By Sara Gilliam, University Communications