Off to China: For Rowan junior, prestigious Boren Scholarship is a critical step toward a career in international relations

Off to China: For Rowan junior, prestigious Boren Scholarship is a critical step toward a career in international relations

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As Rowan's first recipient of a National Security Education Program David L. Boren Scholarship, history and international studies major Tyler Jiang is studying in China for eight months.

Rowan University history and international studies major Tyler Jiang looks to the future and sees nothing but opportunity.

“I just see so many options,” says Jiang, 20, a junior who is the first Rowan student to land a prestigious National Security Education Program David L. Boren Scholarship

On Christmas Day, Jiang left for China, where he’ll study the Mandarin language during the spring and summer terms. His nearly eight months abroad is supported by the $20,000 Boren Scholarship for Jiang to study through Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies, administered by the University of California Berkley and Tsinghua University in China. The program started Jan. 3.

Boren scholarships are awarded to students who have an interest in studying critical languages in countries important to national security. In addition to the educational benefits, the scholarship also includes a service component. Upon his graduation from Rowan in 2018, Jiang will work for the federal government for at least a year in a position related to national security.

The Bryn Mawr, Pa. resident and 2014 graduate of Radnor High School is hoping to land either with the Department of Defense or with the Federal Aviation Administration.

“I love flying. I’d love to work to make flying safer and quicker,” Jiang says.

According to its web site, the National Security Education Program was established in 1991 to provide resources for undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships and institutional grants. The program “is guided by a mission that seeks to lead in development of the national capacity to educate U.S. citizens, understand foreign cultures, strengthen U.S. economic competitiveness and enhance international cooperation and security.”

The Boren scholarships are administered by the Institute of International Education.

Ultimately, Jiang plans to earn advanced degrees in international relations and become a university professor. But, for now, he’s intrigued by the many possibilities he sees in using his Boren scholarship as a springboard for work in international relations, policy analysis, or security analysis.

“The Boren scholarship will help me get the connections I need,” says Jiang, a student in Rowan’s Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors Concentration. “I love to analyze current events and talk about how we can change things. For analysts, it’s a challenge to stay one step ahead of what’s happening.”

Jiang, who is pursuing a concentration in Asian Studies, has taken the one-step-ahead approach to his studies at Rowan and beyond.

Founding president of Zeta Rho, the Rowan chapter of the international studies honor society Sigma Iota Rho, vice president of the Iota Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the history honor society, and treasurer for Profecy A Cappella, the University’s all-male singing group, Jiang last year independently sought out—and landed—an research internship position with the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), an international policy think tank based in Philadelphia.

Since then, he has collaborated with Middle East scholar Joseph Braude, a senior fellow with FPRI’s program on the Middle East. Braude and Jiang have written two articles and a blog post that focus on Djibouti’s international importance as a security beachhead and on anti-gang techniques to combat terrorism in the Middle East.

Jiang landed the internship after doing some research and quickly submitting his curriculum vitae and writing sample.

Last January, Braude contacted him directly asking him if he’d like to work with him at FPRI, a non-partisan, non-profit think tank that “brings the insights of scholarship to bar on the development of policies that advance U.S. national interests,” according to its web site.

The experience with FPRI has been eye opening—and a great primer for his Boren scholarship in China, Jiang says, adding that he’s relishing the chance to conduct relevant, timely research.

“Joseph helped me get interested in research,” says Jiang, who also has had articles published in the undergraduate journal of Sigma Iota Rho, which is based at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I conduct some of the basic research, we sift through what I find and then I’ll do some more research. We sit down and discuss the information and how it impacts the U.S. It’s really fun. I’m much more educated on China now and I definitely feel more prepared as I begin the scholarship.”

Jiang’s initiative is impressive, notes Rowan International Studies Coordinator and Associate Professor Corinne Blake, who urged him to apply for the Boren Scholarship. The application included two essays—Jiang went through eight drafts before submitting the essays—as well as an on-campus interview.

 “Of course, Tyler is an outstanding student—very hard working with excellent writing, research and critical thinking skills. But what impresses me most is his initiative. He takes advantage of every promising opportunity that presents itself,” says Blake, mentioning the FPRI scholarship and Jiang’s work with the Sigma Iota Rho online journal.

“Through taking the initiative to locate and pursue opportunities, he really has built an impressive resume.”

Jiang is living in a residence hall on campus in China and is committed to mastering the Mandarin language. As a child, he communicated in Mandarin with his family and attended Chinese school. But learning the language did not have his full attention, he says.

“Unfortunately, when I did have the chance to learn how to read and write Chinese as a younger boy, I was never truly interested. Now, in college, I’m deeply committed to mastering Mandarin,” Jiang says.

With an eye to the future, Jiang sees his mastery of the language as a critical step in his plans to use his talents for the betterment of U.S.-China relations.

“In order to be able to fulfill my career goals, a large challenge will be mastering language and cultural understanding,” says Jiang. “With the sudden rise of China in the 21st century, the United States needs to reevaluate the way it interacts with the world, and especially with China and Asia in general.

“China is no longer willing to take a back seat in international affairs, but now is actively seeking a role to play in the Pacific. In order to ensure the safety of the United States, increased cooperation with China through military affairs, political affairs and economic affairs is necessary.

“Together, my language background and additional training achieved through studying abroad, course work, and extracurricular experiences will prepare me to work for the Department of Defense or an intelligence agency to protect the United States and her interests in relation to China,” adds Jiang, who is considering graduate school for international affairs at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

A proud Admissions Ambassador at Rowan—“I love that you can really show off your Rowan pride by sharing your love of the school with incoming students,” he says—Jiang is hopeful that his Boren experience will inspire others.

While he’s the first Rowan student to receive a Boren scholarship, “I’m hopefully not the last,” he says. “I hope my Boren scholarship will demonstrate that Rowan students get to do amazing things.”