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National Fellowships and Scholar Programs

Two University of South Carolina Students win Boren Scholarship

Laura Tarbox and John Keaney have been chosen by the National Security Education Program (NSEP) for a yearlong Boren Scholarship which will support their language and culture study in Russia. Andrew Kovtun and William Clinton Welsh were named Boren Scholarship alternates.

David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships are sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. Boren Awards provide U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of our nation. In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients agree to work in the federal government for a period of at least one year. “The National Security Education Program,” according to Dr. Michael A. Nugent, NSEP Director, “is helping change the U.S. higher education system and the way Americans approach the study of foreign languages and cultures.”

Tarbox is a sophomore in the South Carolina Honors College with majors in both Russian and International Studies at the University of South Carolina. She is a member of the Carolina Band and an officer in Tau Beta Sigma, a music service sorority. She also participated in Buddies without Borders, Russian Club, and the Clarinet Association. While a student at the University of South Carolina, Tarbox has received the Excellence in Russian award and Cooper Scholarship. In high school, she was awarded the National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarship, allowing her to participate in an immersion program in Russia. After her time in Russia with the Boren, Tarbox plans to return to further prepare to become a language or intelligence analyst for a major government agency.

Keaney is a sophomore triple majoring in Russian, Economics, and International Studies. He grew up as a military dependent, and it was through his father’s military tours that a love of foreign cultures and people developed. Keaney applied his military background in participation within the Navy-ROTC unit as a Squad Leader during his freshman and sophomore year at the University of South Carolina. He is also a paid analyst, a research assistant, a researcher, the founder of a peer-counseling program, an athlete, a volunteer, and a Russian tutor. Prior to beginning the Boren, Keaney has accepted a summer internship with the US Department of State and will work in the office in Moscow fulfilling some of the duties of a junior Foreign Service officer in the Economics division. After his time in Russia with the Boren, Keaney plans to return to further prepare to become a Foreign Service officer.

Kovtun and Welsh are both juniors in the South Carolina Honors College. Kovtun is triple majoring in International Business, Economics, and Marketing. Kovtun plans to become a Foreign Service economics officer and would use the Boren to study Czech in the Czech Republic. Welsh, a Biochemistry major with a math minor, hopes to have an international career in the sciences and would use the Boren to spend a year in Turkey.

This year, the Institute of International Education, which administers the awards on behalf of NSEP, received 868 applications from undergraduate students for the Boren Scholarship and 165 were awarded; 497 graduate students applied for the Boren Fellowship and 106 were awarded. Boren Scholars and Fellows will live in 43 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. They will study 40 different languages. The most popular languages include Arabic, Mandarin, Swahili, and Portuguese. “To continue to play a leadership role in the world, it is vital that America's future leaders have a deep understanding of the rest of the world,” says University of Oklahoma President David Boren, who as a U.S. Senator was the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program and the scholarships and fellowships that bear his name. “As we seek to lead through partnerships, understanding of other cultures and languages is absolutely essential.”

Boren candidates were supported during the application process by two offices at the University of South Carolina: the Study Abroad Office ( which assists Carolina students in pursuing education overseas, and the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs (, established in 1994 to assist students applying for national fellowship competitions. To visit and to access the Boren website, visit

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