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A logo that reads "Boren Awards"

Nine Tar Heels have received scholarships and fellowships from the federal Boren Awards, breaking UNC-Chapel Hill’s previous record of five finalists in 2003. Carolina is now positioned as a 2023 top-performing institution for combined total Boren Awards and for Boren Scholarships. 

Boren Awards provide U.S. undergraduates scholarships of up to $25,000 and graduate students fellowships of up to $30,000 to study less commonly taught languages in areas of the world that are deemed critical to U.S. interests. As part of their awards, Boren recipients agree to work in qualifying national security positions in the U.S. federal government. 

“The high number of Boren Awards made to Tar Heels this year is a clear sign that Carolina offers students a top-flight education in language and regional studies, which they will then use to make our state, our nation and our world more secure,” said Barbara Stephenson, Carolina’s vice provost for global affairs.  

This year’s Carolina recipients will immerse themselves in six different countries to study six languages, including Georgian, a first in the University’s Boren history. Program lengths vary for each awardee, but they last 12 weeks minimum and typically extend to two semesters. 

Nationally, Boren awarded 210 scholarships to undergraduates and 108 fellowships to graduate students. 

“I am pleased to see a record number of UNC finalists being selected this year as Boren scholars and fellows,” said Adnan Džumhur, associate director of the Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies and campus advisor for the Boren Awards. “Having advised many of them through the application process, I look forward to seeing their research and immersive language study plans come to fruition in Georgia, Indonesia, India, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Taiwan.” 

A subset of Boren Scholarship applicants enrolled in Russian Flagship Programs (RFPs) can receive funding for their capstone year abroad. UNC-Chapel Hill is home to one of only eight RFPs in the United States, and three of Carolina’s RFP students won 2023 Boren scholarships. 

The Boren Awards are sponsored by the National Security Education Program, a federal initiative that seeks to lead in development of the national capacity to educate U.S. citizens, understand foreign cultures, strengthen U.S. economic competitiveness and enhance international cooperation and security. 


Miguel Angel Bahena Schott ’23, a physics and Russian language and culture double major, won a scholarship to study Russian in Kazakhstan. 

William Burnham ’23, a geography and biology double major, won a scholarship to study Indonesian in Indonesia. 

Mackenzie Collura Repp ’23, a sociology and political science double major, won a scholarship to study Russian in Kazakhstan. 

Danielle Dalton, a master’s student in global studies, won a fellowship to study Hindi in India. 

Alastair Ferenbach, a master’s student in Russian and East European studies, won a fellowship to study Georgian in Georgia. 

Mason Harkleroad ’25, a global studies and economics double major, won a scholarship to study Mandarin in Taiwan. 

Connor Lewis ’23, a political science and romance languages double major, won a scholarship to study Russian in Kazakhstan. 

Alexandra Love ’23, a political science and music double major, won a scholarship to study Russian in Kazakhstan. 

Matthew Pierro ’23, a global studies and peace, war, and defense double major, won a scholarship to study Persian in Tajikistan.


By Rawan Abbasi ’20, UNC Global Affairs

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