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USC Announces Critical Language Scholarship, Boren Scholarship and Fellowship Winners

USC will be well represented by students studying critical need languages abroad in the coming year. Graduating senior Grant Fleming will be studying Chinese with a Boren Scholarship, while graduate student Noella Binda Niati will be studying French and Wolof in Senegal with a Boren Fellowship as part of the African Flagship Language Initiative. Anna Witkin (Russian) and Tyler Muehl (Thai) were named Boren Alternates. This brings the total of USC Boren Scholarship and Fellowship winners to 45. In addition, three students will receive intensive language training this summer with the Critical Language Scholarship - Laura Tarbox (Russian), Joshua McTeer (Arabic), and Angela Seidler (Turkish). This brings USC's total of CLS award winners to 23 since the competition was established in 2006.

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."

A program of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs that seeks to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical need foreign languages, the Critical Language Scholarship Program offers intensive summer language institutes in 14 critical foreign languages. Scholarship recipients receive funding to participate in beginning, intermediate and advanced level summer language programs at American Overseas Research Centers and affiliated partners. The selection process is administered by American Councils for International Education with awards approved by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The CLS Program is administered by American Councils and The Ohio State University/Ohio University.

Fleming will graduate in 2017 from the South Carolina Honors College, where he is a Baccalaureus Artium et Scientiae major. He was a 2014 recipient of the TUSA Ambassador Summer Scholarship, which allowed him to study Mandarin in Taiwan. He is also a recipient of a Ceny Walker Undergraduate Research Fellowship. Fleming has been involved in USAID-funded research with the Humanitarian Response and Development Lab (HURDL) at the University of South Carolina and Clark University. With the lab, he has co-authored two papers on the climate services needs of communities throughout Senegal, and is currently working on a third. He hopes to work for the US government in a position relevant to national security, where he can make use of his Chinese language skills.

McTeer is a rising junior in the College of Earth and Ocean Sciences, where he is majoring in Geological Sciences. A recipient of the Life Scholarship, his research focuses on zircon geochronology of plutons in the Antarctic Peninsula and the Tierra Del Fuego in South America. He plans to continue his study of geology in graduate school.

Niati is a 2007 graduate of Nebraska Wesleyan University, where she majored in Religion and History. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Educational Foundations and Inquiry at USC. She is a participant in the Carolina Diversity Professor's Program, and plans a career working in international education and development.

Seidler is a 2009 graduate of the University of Arizona, where she majored in Geography and Middle Eastern Studies. She is currently pursuing her MA at USC in Geography, where she is the recipient of the Rhude M. Patterson Trustee Recruitment Fellowship for Women in Social Sciences. After participating in the CLS program learning Turkish in Azerbaijan this summer, Seidler will be conducting research for her Master's thesis on the early impacts of a water transfer project on a rural population in southern Turkey. Her research is funded by the Association of American Geographers Cultural and Political Ecology Student Field Study Award, and the Ceny Walker Graduate Fellowship and the Islamic World Studies Graduate Fellowship, both of which are provided through the Walker Institute of International and Area Studies at USC. Seidler ultimately hopes to become a university professor.

Tarbox is a 2016 graduate of the South Carolina Honors College, where she majored in Russian and International Studies and minored in German. She began her study of Russian in the summer of 2012 on a NSLI-Y scholarship to Yaroslavl, Russia, and significantly furthered her study of the language as she spent the 2014-2015 academic year on a Boren Scholarship in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and the recipient of the 2014 USC Excellence in Russian award, she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Tarbox will continue her study of Russia/Eurasia/Eastern Europe in graduate school, with specific focus on Central Asia and Russian political relations in regards to international security.

Muehl is a rising junior in the South Carolina Honors College, where he is double majoring in International Studies and Russian.

Witkin is a rising senior in the South Carolina Honors College majoring in Russian and International Studies with a minor in Spanish. A 2015 Critical Language Scholar in Russian, she was named Outstanding Junior in International Studies by the department of Political Science, and is a Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship recipient. At USC, Witkin is a member of Mock Trial, and currently serves as a research assistant to Dr. Kara Brown. She is the recipient of both the Walker Institute International Experience Grant and the Magellan Scholar research Grant to fund her work with Dr. Brown in Estonia this summer.

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

Students interested in the CLS and other national fellowships are assisted by the Office of Fellowships & Scholar Programs. For more information about the CLS, contact the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs at 777-0958, or visit us online at

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