Boren Scholarships take high-achieving Rowan students to China, Jordan

Boren Scholarships take high-achieving Rowan students to China, Jordan


For Rowan University students Katie Patterson and Cheyanne Marion, there’s no better way to prepare for a future in federal national security than to expand their horizons beyond America’s borders. Students in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Marion and Patterson both received Boren Scholarships, which will allow them to study abroad for a full academic year.

A life-changing opportunity to spend a year in China

For Patterson (at right), a 23-year-old senior from Tabernacle, being named a Boren Scholar amounts to much more than getting a scholarship. “Receiving the Boren Scholarship has completely changed my future career path,” explains Patterson, who had originally planned to study abroad in China for just one semester.

The Modern Languages & Linguistics major and International Studies and Asian Studies minor had previously majored first in Law & Justice Studies and then in Video and Digital Media Production.

“When I changed my major, I dreamed of working for our federal government within the FBI, CIA, NSA or even as a foreign service diplomat abroad, but I always viewed those positions as out of my reach because I don’t have nearly as much experience as a native Chinese speaker,” Patterson says. “I was very doubtful of my abilities when I was first applying for this scholarship.” Fortunately, with the help of Dr. Cory Blake, associate dean of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Patterson applied for the scholarship in spite of her doubts – and won.

“When I received the news that I was chosen as a recipient, I couldn't believe it,” she says. “I decided that I would stay in China for a full academic year, rather than just four months, which can greatly further my communication abilities in the Chinese language.”

A future working with refugees in the Middle East

Marion (at right), a 21-year-old senior and first-generation college student from Philadelphia, will be heading to Jordan for a year.

As an International Studies major with a concentration in Middle East and African Studies, studying Arabic – both Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and Jordanian Colloquial Arabic (Ammiya) – is just part of her plan for the year. She is eager to work with refugees as part of an internship with the nonprofit organization Collateral Repair Project, particularly because she intends to pursue a career in human rights and refugee development.

“I am so grateful to have been awarded this scholarship,” Marion says. “It will give me the opportunity to gain a working-level proficiency in spoken Arabic as well as gain unique insight into issues faced by refugee families. This will help me in the future, as I hope to help create a policy that will help alleviate the global refugee crisis.”

About the Boren Awards

In being recognized with the Boren Award, Marion and Patterson are joining an elite group of Rowan students. Since 2016, Rowan University has had a total of five Boren awardees. An additional Rowan student, sophomore International Studies and History major Sean French, has been selected this year as an alternate for a Boren Scholarship to Japan.

Both Patterson and Marion expect to graduate with their bachelor’s degrees upon returning home from their studies abroad.

The Boren Awards offer funding for undergraduate students who wish to study abroad in underrepresented regions of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, Eurasia and Eastern Europe. The scholarship is intended for students who have a particular career path in mind: national security.

Upon graduating, Boren Scholars must honor a commitment to work for the federal government for at least one year. Patterson plans to fulfill this service requirement by working as a Peace Corps volunteer in China, while Marion intends to work as a foreign service officer, in Jordan or elsewhere in the Middle East, for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) or the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

The goal of Boren Scholarships is to help students achieve long-term immersion in a foreign culture and language, rather than the short-term opportunities afforded by summer or single-semester study abroad terms. The program encourages students to study abroad for at least six months or two academic terms and gives preference to applicants who intend to commit to these extended stays overseas.