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Four Illinois students receive national funding for overseas foreign language study

Champaign, Ill. – Graduate students Bradford Coyle, Miriam Keep and Phoebe Shelor and undergraduate Daniel Levin have received prestigious Boren Awards for study abroad during 2016-17. David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships are sponsored by the National Security Education Program, 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. The award draws on a broad definition of national security, recognizing that the scope of national security has expanded to include not only the traditional concerns of protecting and promoting American well-being, but also the challenges of global society, including sustainable development, environmental degradation, global disease and hunger, population growth and migration, and economic competitiveness. In exchange for funding, Boren Awards recipients agree to work in the federal government for a period of at least one year.

Bradford Coyle

Bradford Coyle, of New Bremen, Ohio, is a master’s student in agricultural and applied economics. He will use the Boren Fellowship to study Korean at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul, Korea, which offers specialized language instruction in economics. His master’s research examines public attitudes toward vertical (factory) farming. Upon graduation, Coyle plans to pursue a foreign agricultural service post in Korea.


Miriam Keep

Miriam Keep, of Appleton, Wisconsin, is a master’s student in urban planning and will use the Boren Fellowship to study Arabic at the Qalam wa Lawh Language Center in Rabat, Morocco. Her research focuses on the relocation of urban slums. Keep plans for a career with USAID in an Arabic-speaking country, working on projects that affect youth and poorer populations.



Phoebe Shelor

Phoebe Shelor, of Cedar Park, Texas, is a master’s student in translation and interpreting. She will use the Boren Fellowship to study French and Wolof this summer at the University of Florida, Gainesville, and this fall at the American Councils Program in Dakar, Senegal. Shelor plans to work as a translator for the U.S. State Department in the Office of Language Services. 



Daniel Levin

Daniel Levin, of Highland Park, Illinois, is a senior in political science who will utilize the Boren Scholarship to study Arabic in Jordan during the 2016-17 academic year. As an undergraduate, he founded an arms control, domestic and international security studies group and currently serves as a teaching assistant for a physics course on nuclear weapons. Levin aspires to a career within the federal government.


The Institute of International Education, which administers the awards on behalf of NSEP, received 820 applications this year from undergraduate students for the Boren Scholarship and awarded 165; 350 graduate students applied for the Boren Fellowship and 105 were awarded.

“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,” said 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.”

Since 1994, more than 5,500 students have received Boren Awards. Boren Scholars and Fellows represent a vital pool of highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal national security arena, and program alumni are contributing to the critical missions of agencies throughout the federal government.

“I applaud all four of this year’s winners, and I’m particularly happy with our having a record number of graduate students winning,” said Colleen Vojak, the assistant director of external fellowships in the Graduate College. “The intensive language training and cultural immersion our fellows receive through the Boren program will help them succeed in careers important to U.S. security interests around the world.”

At the campus level, the Boren Fellowship application process is coordinated jointly by the Graduate College’s Office of External Fellowships and the National and International Scholarships Program.

Undergraduate and graduate students interested in applying for the Boren Awards should contact IIE at or visit

Reposted from Inside Illinois -  April 28, 2016.