Five URI students win Boren Scholarships to study languages overseas

Posted on
Boren Scholarship winners
The URI student recipients of the 2018 Boren Scholarship are (l-r) Tabatha Lewis, Chris Parisella, Emily Hadfield, Salita Daraphet, and Chase Hall. (Photo by Michael Salerno)

KINGSTON, R.I. – May 2, 2018 – Five University of Rhode Island students have been awarded Boren Scholarships of up to $20,000 to study foreign languages abroad – three in China, and one each in Indonesia and Senegal.

The recipients are Salita Daraphet, a junior global business and Chinese major from Northbridge, Mass.; Emily Hadfield, a junior global business and Chinese major from Pipersville, Penn.; Chase Hall, a junior political science and Chinese major from Annapolis, Md.; Tabatha Lewis, a senior environmental science major from Brookfield, Conn.; and Christopher Parisella, a junior political science and writing and rhetoric major from North Haven, Conn.

Daraphet, Hadfield and Hall participate in URI’s Chinese Language Flagship Program, while Lewis and Parisella participate in the University’s Peace Corps Prep Program.

The David L. Boren Scholarship is one of the most prestigious study abroad awards offered to American college students. The National Security Education Program, a federal initiative to expand the pool of American citizens with foreign language and international skills, sponsors the scholarship. In exchange for funding, recipients agree to work for the federal government for at least one year.

Five out of URI’s six applicants for the scholarship were successful, three times the 28 percent national average. Sixteen URI students have been awarded the scholarship since 2011.

Daraphet will use her scholarship to spend a year at Beijing Union University, where she will take Chinese language classes and participate in an internship.

“I spent last summer in China for two months, so I am looking forward to better immersing myself in the culture and environment for this year-long journey,” she said. “I hope to be able to interact with native speakers and explore the wonders that China has to offer.”

She plans to eventually secure a job working for the State Department or the intelligence community where she can put her language skills to work.

“I think it’s important that we all have a growing mindset that expands our viewpoints across borders and allows us to understand other cultures,” said Daraphet.

Hadfield will also use her scholarship to spend a year at Beijing Union University to immerse herself into Chinese society.

“I thrive on the surprise and happiness that strangers feel when I speak to them in their native language,” she said. “It creates a connection that can be derived from few other interactions between two foreigners.”

She hopes to work in national security or as a specialist on international trade and economics after graduation and eventually work in the private business sector.

“I can’t say exactly what my dream job is or where it will take me,” Hadfield said, “but I do know that I want to be able to incorporate my Chinese language skills into my work, and to always continue to further my love for languages.”

Hall said that he will enroll in Chinese and political science classes at Nanjing University next year “to further my knowledge of the Chinese language and culture while also learning Chinese vocabulary related to political science, which I believe will be very helpful later on. Afterward I’ll find an internship for a few months so I can start using my language skills in a professional setting.”

He is especially looking forward to his year of working for the government. “To me that means a job related to the field I’m interested in right after I graduate,” Hall said. He plans a career in public service working for the government in a national security role.

Lewis will participate in the inaugural class of the Indonesian Flagship Languages Initiative, which includes an eight-week summer program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, followed by a semester of intensive language study at the State University of Malang Indonesia. She will spend next spring at one of URI’s partner institutions, the Univerisitas Islam Indonesia, where she will conduct research or participate in a service-learning project.

“I am most excited to get a better understanding of the Indonesian culture by being fully immersed in the country,” she said. “There is so much to be learned from this experience, and I can’t wait.”

After graduation, she plans to join the Peace Corps to help improve the quality of drinking water and sanitation in developing nations. She then hopes to work for the U.S. Agency for International Development “to continue helping people meet their most basic resource needs,” Lewis said.

Parisella has always wanted to study abroad, “and the Boren Scholarship seemed the perfect opportunity to do so while both studying French intensively and moving one step closer to a career in foreign service,” he said.

He will spend eight weeks this summer at the University of Florida studying French and Wolof, the language of the Wolof people of Senegal, followed by a semester at the West African Research Center in Dakar, Senegal.

“I’ll be forced to communicate almost exclusively in French, and I hope to have made significant progress by the semester’s end,” he said. “I have no experience with Wolof, but I’m eager to begin studying a language I’m completely unfamiliar with as well. Hopefully, this is only the start of language learning opportunities such as this.”

He is looking forward to a career working at the United Nations, U.S. Agency for International Development, or the U.S. Foreign Service.