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Five W&L Students Awarded Boren Scholarships for Global Language Study The David L. Boren Scholarship supports the intensive study of languages deemed important to U.S. interests.

Five Washington and Lee University students received a David L. Boren Scholarship to support intensive language study around the world. The Boren Scholarship supports American students’ study of critical languages that are deemed important to U.S. interests, allowing students to study in and learn the language and culture of a country with the goal of applying this experience to their professional careers.

This year’s W&L recipients include:

  • Sandor Franch ’25 to study Swahili in Tanzania
  • Xavier Raymondson ’25 to study Russian in Armenia
  • Tara Trinley ’25 to study Russian in Armenia
  • Tyler Bernard ’23 to study Portuguese in Brazil
  • Ellie Penner ’23 to study Hindi in India

“I deeply admire our students’ commitment to language study and their drive to seek out opportunities for language immersion,” said Matthew Loar, W&L’s director of fellowships. “As this record-breaking group of Boren Scholars spreads out across the globe this summer and fall, they live up to our mission of preparing students for ‘engaged citizenship in a global and diverse society.’ I could not be more proud.”

Franch, who is double majoring in global politics and romance languages with a minor in classics, will study Swahili in Tanzania. A native of Tallinn, Estonia, Franch is grateful for the support he has received at W&L to pursue the Boren Scholarship and hopes to apply his experience to a career in the United States federal government.

“I feel the W&L faculty care about my well-being and always put their best efforts forward to support me,” he said. “This opportunity will help me take huge steps toward a career in the federal government, as well as give me first-hand experience in connecting with civilians from another country and representing the United States and its values.”

Both Raymondson and Trinley will be traveling to Armenia to study Russian. Raymondson, a native of North Chesterfield, Virginia, is a sociology and East European and Russian area studies double major. He is particularly looking forward to expanding his horizons and furthering his academic ambitions through the program.

“Having the opportunity to travel out of the country for the first time will be an incredible and enlightening experience,” Raymondson said. “It will allow me to craft a better senior thesis and truly encapsulates the learning methods a liberal arts education entails.”

Trinley is pursuing a double major in European history and East European and Russian area studies. A native of Boca Raton, Florida, Trinley appreciates the opportunity to immerse herself in a new country and commit to the study of its language and culture.

“I’m doing the things I love, and I can’t put into words my joy and gratitude,” Trinley said. “I have the opportunity to live in one of the most dynamic parts of the world, improve my Russian language skills, and act as a cultural ambassador on behalf of my country every day.”

Bernard, a philosophy and environmental studies double major from Short Hills, New Jersey, declined the award in order to start a new job following graduation.

Penner, who is double majoring in art history and politics with a minor in poverty and human capability studies, will study Hindi in India. A native of Boulder, Colorado, she is eager to apply the interdisciplinary and personalized education she received at W&L during her time in India. Penner’s dedication to studying and amplifying Himalayan culture has shaped her academic experience and led to her earning not only the Boren Scholarship, but a Fulbright research grant to study art restoration efforts in Nepal. Due to the timing of the two programs, Penner decided to decline the Fulbright and pursue the Boren Scholarship, which she describes as “unique because of the intensive, immersive language study that would put me at a point of near fluency in a short amount of time.”

Conducting a year-long immersive language study will help give Penner the tools she needs to pursue her research interests in India and Southeast Asia, which include painting practices, nation-building, identity politics, and self-fashioning through art production. She understands that the acquisition of language is key to developing relationships and understanding more about a culture, which is what ultimately drove her to choose the Boren Scholarship over the Fulbright grant.

“The Boren Scholarship creates important community connections and will be a jumping-off point for me to continue within these familial and social networks and continue studying South Asian art,” Penner said. “Within the art-historical discipline, much of South Asian art has been dominated and disempowered by a foreign narrative. By understanding communities on their own terms, we can gain a holistic perception of art and grow closer to the people who make it.”

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