Two George Mason University graduate students have been awarded prestigious Boren Fellowships and will travel overseas this fall to immerse themselves in languages as they continue work toward their master’s degrees.
Kiernan Hogan, an interdisciplinary studies (MAIS) graduate student with a specialization in energy and sustainability, and Ashley Robertson, who is in the master of science program within Mason’s Environmental Science and Policy Department with a concentration in energy and sustainability policy and science, were among the 121 recipients of Boren Fellowships from around the nation who will study different languages throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
“It's a huge honor. It feels partly like recognition of all the hard work I've put in, the quality of the support I received from Mason staff and my advisors, and at the same time an investment in my future after Mason,” Hogan said. “Being awarded the fellowship means I presented a compelling argument as to why adding a linguistic specialization to my master's program is worthwhile, and that I hope much of my future work will have a strong international component to it.”
Hogan will travel to Brazil and engage in an intense Portuguese course in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, partly through the Federal University of Minas Gerais. Upon his return to the United States, his long-term goal is to work the Bureau of Energy Resources in the Department of State, focusing on energy policy in Brazil and South America.
Robertson will attend Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, South Korea, to conduct research on the country’s energy policy as part of her master’s thesis and will engage in intensive Korean language study. Upon returning to the United States, she plans to seek a position as a researcher in the Department Energy.
“It’s an incredible honor,” Robertson said of her Boren Fellowship. “I still can’t believe it, but I’m excited. To have it happen is one of the biggest achievements I’ve had in my academic career. To be able to do research while I’m there is also really exciting.”
Megan Bruening, who is Mason’s assistant director of graduate fellowships within the Office of Fellowships, said she came away very impressed with both of these amazing students.
“It was a great pleasure to work with both on this process,” Bruening said.
Both students worked under the auspices of Jennifer Sklarew, an assistant professor in the Environmental Science and Policy Department.
Boren Fellowships provide up to $30,000 for U.S. graduate students to add an important international and language component to their graduate education through specialization in area study, language study or increased language proficiency. In exchange for funding, Boren Awards recipients commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.
The awards are named for former U.S. Senator David L. Boren, who was the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program in 1991 and the scholarships and fellowships that bear his name. The fellowship is an initiative of the NSEP, which provides funding for U.S. students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests.