Federal government awards three Fairfield University students David L. Boren undergraduate scholarships for study abroad
The National Security Education Program has awarded the David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarship to three Fairfield University students to study in Russia, Hungary and the Czech Republic this year.
Created by the National Security Education Act of 1991, the prestigious scholarships are intended in part to increase Americans' understanding of less commonly taught languages and cultures. In the past three years Fairfield University students have garnered three of the scholarships - one each year.
That three Fairfield students were chosen this year, all for Eastern European nations, showcases the growing strength of Fairfield University's Russian and Eastern European Studies program, said Katherine Kidd, Ph.D., director of the International Studies program at Fairfield.
In addition to increasing their knowledge of foreign cultures, the scholarship recipients will be in a better position to seek jobs in the diplomatic arena, Dr. Kidd said. In exchange for the scholarship, students are required to work for the government in a security capacity for a certain time period. That obligatory internship is actually another foot in the door for students, Dr. Kidd said. "It opens up a lot of opportunities as far as students interested in government service," Dr. Kidd said.
Jessica L. Viner, of Wolcott, Conn., leaves for Russia at the end of this month. She will spend her junior year at Herzen University in St. Petersburg studying the language, as well as history, politics and other subjects taught in Russian.
"It's going to be kind of an adventure," Viner said.
Viner pursued the Boren scholarship after a visit to Ukraine in the summer of 1999. "I just really fell in love with the Slavic culture," said Viner, who has a double major in international studies and politics at Fairfield.
Viner has been president of Fairfield's Model United Nations for the past two years and was a finalist for a U.S. State Department Thomas A. Pickering fellowship. She hopes to pursue a career in the United Nations, foreign service or a related venture.
Viner's roommate and vice president of Model United Nations is off to Hungary.
Stephanie Medvigy, of Aurora, Colo., just returned from a three-week intensive French study at the American University in Paris. Now she's going to Budapest. "My father was born in Budapest," said Medvigy, who will be a junior this year. "I've always been interested in his history."
Medvigy is also looking forward to the follow-up federal service requirement.
"I want to work for the government in some capacity, which is why this scholarship is excellent," said Medvigy, who has one major in international studies and hopes to add an individually designed major in Russian and Eastern European studies. Medvigy is also a member of the Fairfield University Dance Ensemble and is vice president of the French club.
Brian J. Gosselin, a junior from Andover, Mass., wasn't the typical applicant for the David L. Boren Scholarship. Past recipients had often majored in international studies or a related field. But Gosselin feels his accounting major may have given him a leg up on the competition.
The Czech Republic is still making the transition from communism to capitalism, Gosselin said, which prompted him to choose the nation for his study.
"They're in a huge economic transition right now," said Gosselin, who will spend a semester there. He will take courses in the language, the history of Central and Eastern Europe, and art and architecture at Charles University in Prague.
Gosselin also hopes the experience and internship in a government agency will prepare him for a job in government.
"I don't want to do accounting in the traditional sense," Gosselin said. He is considering a government auditing occupation, such as in the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency or the U.S. Department of Treasury. Gosselin is a senator with the Fairfield University Student Association and a University tour guide. He spent the summer interning at a real estate investment firm in Boston.
Posted on August 10, 2002
Vol. 35, No. 25