Students Earn Backing to Study Nations Critical to U.S. Interests

Two University of Virginia students will study in Turkey and China next year thanks to David L. Boren Scholarships, which provide up to $20,000 to U.S. students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests.

Caroline Bartholomew, 22, of Bethesda, Maryland, who is studying in the politics honors program, with a concentration in foreign affairs and a philosophy minor, will move to Turkey.

Corey Gumbert, 24, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, who will also graduate in the summer of 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in politics, will study Mandarin Chinese in China.

Boren Scholarships are funded by the National Security Education Program, which focuses on geographic areas, languages and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security.

“The Boren Scholarship is quite competitive and we are very pleased that two of our U.Va. nominees have been named recipients,” said Stacey Hansen, senior education-abroad adviser and operations coordinator in the International Studies Office. “Both will study abroad for a full academic year in order to hone their language skills and deepen their local knowledge by engaging with their respective host communities.  Caroline and Corey are terrific examples of what a global education means at U.Va.”

“I wrote my undergraduate thesis on how the 2003 Iraq War affected Turkish-American relations,” Bartholomew said. “I hope to delve further into the topic and take advantage of greater access to Turkish sources and analysis of the event while abroad.”

She spent last summer in Turkey and is eager to return. “I came away from the experience knowing that I wanted to move to Turkey for at least a year after I graduated,” Bartholomew said. “I want to become fluent in Turkish and well-versed in Turkish politics, both of which will hopefully make me a more competitive applicant for both the foreign service and graduate school. And Istanbul is a pretty fantastic place.”

Gerard Alexander, director of the politics honors program, said he enjoyed working with Bartholomew. “She brings energy and candor to the classroom, in a program that values that in classroom discussion,” he said. “Along the way, she became focused on Turkey, a particularly strategic country, and has doggedly pursued language skills, wrote her honors thesis on U.S.-Turkish relations and has now earned a scholarship that will enable her to spend a year there, soaking up the language and deepening her knowledge. It’s all indicative of the energy and savvy Caroline brings to life, at U.Va., and now beyond it.”

Bartholomew was vice president of One Less, a sexual assault education group; political director of Democracy for America; a legal clinic intern at the U.Va. Women’s Center; and a member of both the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society and of Pi Beta Phi sorority.

Gumbert, who attended high school at the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore, sees opportunity in the East.

“This scholarship allows me the opportunity to learn a considerable amount about China, and to engage with its people and culture through the primary language of the country,” Gumbert said. “China has become the most important country to U.S. defense policy, and as the world’s biggest source of carbon emissions and biggest energy user, it will be extremely relevant to the future of alternative energy proliferation.”

Gumbert, who wants to serve in the military and later work with Internet/media and alternative energy start-ups, will study in Beijing in the fall and Harbin in the spring. 

“What attracts me to China is primarily the ability to constantly practice Chinese and to be immersed in the people and culture,” he said. “Since attending boarding school in Singapore for my last two years of high school, I have always had a deep interest and respect for Chinese culture.”

More than 5,000 students have received Boren Scholarships since 1994. Former U.S. Sen. David Boren, currently president of the University of Oklahoma, was the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program and the scholarships and fellowships that bear his name.

Media Contact

Matt Kelly

University News Associate Office of University Communications