By Abby Weingarten
For the first time in the 21st century, New College students have been awarded coveted Boren Scholarships.
It has been more than two decades since any Novo Collegians have earned this prestigious designation (and it has only happened twice before—once in 1995 and a second time in 1998).
Thesis student Isabella Cibelli DuTerroil and second-year Alana Swartz are this year’s recipients. They will receive funding to study a critical language—Turkish and Japanese, respectively—and work for at least one year in the public service field, in government positions critical to United States national security.
“Boren visited our campus in the fall to intentionally recruit from New College, going into classrooms and doing information sessions. They reached out directly to us,” said Dwayne Peterson, the director of New College’s Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity (CEO). “They’re familiar with our academic program and they targeted us, which really shows the strength of our academic program.”
Allie Maass, the assistant director of writing for the Writing Resource Center (WRC), served as the Boren adviser during the fall cycle, in partnership with Florence Zamsky, Ph.D. (the assistant director for off-campus study/study abroad). Both Maass and Zamsky worked to prepare the students for the Boren application process. The maximum award amounts are $10,000 for 12 to 24 weeks, and $20,000 for 25 to 52 weeks. DuTerroil will be participating for a semester while Swartz will be involved for an academic year.
“I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for students interested in studying abroad to start planning early, as early as their first year at the College. There are many good, albeit very competitive, scholarships out there,” Zamsky said. “The sooner students refine their plans, the more time they have to identify and apply for the best awards.”
The Boren Scholarship is undoubtedly one of the best awards, Zamsky said. This year, the Institute of International Education, on behalf of the National Security Education Program, awarded 217 David L. Boren Scholarships to undergraduate students and 119 David L. Boren Fellowships to graduate students. Recipients will study 46 languages in 44 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. A total of 784 undergraduate students applied for the Boren Scholarship this year. Swartz and DuTerroil will begin their work sometime between August 2020 and March 2021, depending on travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
“In the past, New College has had two other Boren scholars: Scott Kirksey (Indonesia, 1998) and Val Bacharach (Estonia, 1995),” said Duane Smith, Ph.D., assistant director of prestigious fellowships and scholarships for the CEO. “So, while Alana and Isabella aren’t firsts, they are the first in this century.”
Maass is not surprised that DuTerroil and Swartz were selected.
“New College students are known for being passionate, driven and committed to facilitating change,” Maass said. “Boren offers them a way to achieve those goals through intensive language study, and also by giving them a guaranteed year of employment in the federal government, which can be the first step in finding a role in which they can enact significant change.”
Swartz is currently studying marine biology and East Asian studies, working alongside adviser Jing Zhang, Ph.D., associate professor of Chinese language and culture. Swartz applied to the Boren program to study abroad in Japan for a year, hoping to gain an understanding of Japanese environmental policies and approaches to scientific research. She aspires to work for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs while specializing in United States-Japan oceanic policies and protection projects.
“What excites me most about being chosen for this scholarship is the opportunity that I now have to study abroad in Japan and then later pursue a career that is incredibly meaningful to me. I have always loved Japanese language and culture, and I look forward to my study abroad experience with much anticipation,” Swartz said. “I have been incredibly lucky to attend a school as wonderful as New College. I have had amazing professors who have helped nourish my desire to learn and encouraged my own academic interests.”
DuTerroil is pursuing a general studies area of concentration and her adviser is Uzi Baram, Ph.D., professor of anthropology. Her thesis is entitled Globalized Wedding Traditions of Contemporary Istanbul’s Urban Elite. She hopes the Boren Scholarship will help her not only become proficient in the Turkish language but also prepare her for a potential career with the United States Department of State.
“I am so excited to spend four months in Azerbaijan, becoming immersed in the culture and the language,” DuTerroil said. “My passion for learning about other cultures is just as strong as my passion for traveling, so going to Azerbaijan will mean a new intellectual adventure, a step forward in my career aspirations, and a means of satisfying my wanderlust.”
The courses she has taken at New College–particularly pertaining to anthropology, the Middle East and religion–have all been instrumental in developing her love for cultural studies, she said.
“Because New College’s small class sizes facilitate more seminar-style discussion and personalized, close communication between professors and students, I feel as if I have been able to expand myself intellectually very well here, and this has helped prepare me to be a competitive applicant for scholarships such as these,” DuTerroil said. “If it weren’t for New College’s CEO, I probably would not have heard about the Boren Scholarship in the first place.”
The CEO staff, Maass and Zamsky were all thrilled to help Swartz and DuTerroil on this path, and they look forward to watching the students thrive in the future.
“I cannot express enough how impressed I am with our students. Applying for these awards is not easy. There is a lot of work involved, and students are completing this work while also continuing to produce strong work for their courses,” Maass said. “Alana and Isabella have truly earned this award, and I have no doubt that it will support them in continuing to do amazing things.”
For more information on the Boren Scholarships, visit borenawards.org.
Abby Weingarten is the editor/writer in the Office of Communications & Marketing.