Mackenzie Welch ’16 and Asma Noray ’17 Win Boren Scholarships

Asma Noray '17 and Mackenzie Welch '16

Noray (left) and Welch will travel to Jordan and Brazil, respectively, this summer in support of a federal program to broaden the pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international relations skills.

Mackenzie Welch ’16 and Asma Noray ’17 are among 171 students chosen as Boren Scholars this year, supporting a federal initiative to broaden the pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills.

Sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), the award provides students funding and encouragement to develop language skills and experiences in countries critical to the stability of the U.S.

“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 wrote the legislation that initiated the NSEP. “As we seek to lead through partnerships, understanding of other cultures and languages is absolutely essential.”

Welch, a Richard Rubin Scholar and Honors political science major from Chadron, Neb., will travel to Brazil this summer. Noray, a special major in Arabic studies and political science from Shoreline, Wash., heads to Jordan.

The Boran Scholarship is highly competitive, with more than 750 students applying each year. In exchange for NSEP’s support, students agree to intern with the federal government for a year. Boren Scholars represent a variety of academic backgrounds, with a common thread of interest in less commonly taught languages such as Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and Swahili.

Noray was also among 550 students across the U.S. to receive a scholarship from the Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, which sends its awardees to intensive language institutes in 13 countries for seven to ten weeks. It’s another prong in the government’s efforts to expand the number of Americans who are studying and mastering critical foreign languages.

At Swarthmore, Noray has been involved with the Chester Youth Court program, the Intercultural Center, and the Muslim Student Association, among other activities.

“I have loved my experience at Swarthmore so far,” she says.

Earlier this year, Welch and Aldo Frosinini ’15, an economics major from Houston, Tex., took the top prize at the 16th Annual Jonathan R. Lax '71 Conference on Entrepreneurship for their presentation on Sabio, a mobile tool that provides real-time feedback and creates a specific track record for employee development and promotion. Welch was selected as a Truman Scholar in 2013 and has run education workshops with the College Access Center of Delaware County and participated in Mock Trial, among other activities.