Bound for Jordan: Boren awardee Bryan Jennings views language as key to international relations career

Bound for Jordan: Boren awardee Bryan Jennings views language as key to international relations career

Rowan junior Bryan Jennings already is well on his way as he pursues a career in international relations. This semester, he is studying abroad in Germany. In the fall, he'll head to Jordan on a Boren Scholarship.

For Bryan Jennings, ’23, an international studies and modern languages and linguistics major in Rowan’s College of Humanities & Social Sciences, extensive foreign language expertise is the key that will unlock a career in international relations.

Thanks to receiving the prestigious David L. Boren Scholarship from the National Security Education Program, he will travel to Jordan this fall, where he will hone his Arabic language skills. He was notified of the scholarship while studying in Germany this spring.

According to the Boren Awards website, Boren Scholars and Fellows study critical languages and immerse themselves in various cultures in regions that are often underrepresented in study abroad programs.

“Studying in Jordan will allow me to study and learn another critical and valuable language that is essential for a career in international affairs,” said Jennings, who minors in German and Arabic, as well as geography. “I also will experience a new culture and life abroad, which will lead to more connections, friendships and an unforgettable journey.”

As he develops a high proficiency in the Arabic language and the dialect native to the region and an understanding of the culture, he will volunteer in the community, helping local organizations that support refugees with aid, entertaining children in hospitals and helping distribute food to those in need.

“Studying in Jordan also will give me the life experience of being a foreigner in a faraway land, which will prepare me even more for a career that could likely involve living overseas,” he said.

Multicultural background

Jennings’ passion for languages and other cultures took root when his Filipina grandmother taught him the Tagalog language when he was a child. As he grew older, he reinforced his understanding of the language as he talked with family members in the Philippines during video calls.

He values the immersive nature of studying abroad as he expands his range of languages.

“While anyone can study a language at an institution in their home country, it is a totally different experience to be in another nation across the world while learning the language,” Jennings said.

“Everyone around you speaks a different language than your own, and everything you see and hear on TV or in the streets of the city will be in the language you are learning. You are essentially forced to speak it to communicate and survive, and it is an excellent way to achieve fluency in a language and knowledge of a foreign culture.”

Competitive edge

“I believe studying in Germany and Jordan will help me in my career search process, allowing me to discover what I am truly looking for in my academic and professional career,” said Jennings, who plans to pursue graduate school and a career in the Foreign Service. “I believe it will help me stand out from many others who are looking for careers in international affairs, and it will influence my perspective by opening my mind even more to a new way of life and culture very different from my own.”

Jennings transferred to Rowan from Stockton University in 2019 and was motivated by the faculty and course offerings at his new school.

“The language and international courses at Rowan empowered me by helping me recognize the countless possibilities that languages and international affairs can unlock,” he said. “They also piqued my interest and passion to travel even more and see the world. Rowan faculty are also so encouraging and more than happy to offer guidance and see me succeed.”

Jennings encourages students to search within themselves to find inspiration for their dreams.

“Many people suggest looking to a role model in seeking success or their goals, but I disagree,” he said. “In my family, I am the only one who has studied abroad in another country and chose a completely different major. Others may have thought it was impossible or something that is not feasible. I didn’t let this scare or deter me.

“Believe in yourself, believe in your abilities and never give up on yourself or your dreams. Only you can carve out your path to happiness and success.”