Campus News

Two UB students receive prestigious Boren awards


Published April 27, 2020

“That two out of four of our applicants were elected for the Boren Scholarship is a testament to the quality of our students. ”
Megan Stewart, assistant director
Office of Fellowships and Scholarships

Two UB students have been selected to receive the prestigious Boren Scholarship, the first year UB has had more than one winner since 2017 and the first time the university has achieved a 50-percent success rate for students applying for the award that funds study abroad.

The two winners are Alisa Delaj of Yonkers, a mechanical engineering major who will study at Korea University in a year-long program, and Carmila Stafford of Orchard Park, a linguistics major with a concentration in Japanese who will study at Konan University in Japan on a year-long exchange program.

“That two out of four of our applicants were elected for the Boren Scholarship is a testament to the quality of our students,” says Megan Stewart, assistant director in UB’s Office of Fellowships and Scholarships, which identifies, sponsors and supports UB students applying for the internationally competitive and recognized scholarships such as the Boren award.

Stewart served as an evaluator for the Boren Scholarship this year, reading student applications from across the country and traveling to New York City to provide feedback to a selection committee at the Institute of International Education.

“We are incredibly proud of Alisa and Carmila,” Steward says, “and know that they’ll do an excellent job of representing UB when they travel abroad.”

Alisa Delaj.

Delaj previously studied mechanical engineering in Korea during the spring 2019 semester. She is currently an intern with the U.S. Department of the Navy, Strategic Systems Programs. She also had an internship with the Department of State, where she helped teach diplomats the Albanian language. She participates in UB’s Nano-Satellite Laboratory and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Her ambition is to become an engineer in the Navy.

“For me, this award means stepping out of my comfort zone of numbers and theories,” Delaj says. “It means developing as an engineer, both technically and culturally.”

Carmila Stafford.

Stafford previously studied abroad in Japan, helping Japanese students practice their English language skills as a tutor. She is captain of UB’s Judo no Kata Club and is a global ambassador for the Office of Study Abroad. She would like to work as an interpreter in the federal government ─ specifically the Department of Justice ─ in the future.

“I was honestly surprised to hear that I had been selected,” Stafford says.  “I’ve been studying Japanese since high school, with the ultimate goal of becoming an interpreter for the federal government, so the Boren was the perfect opportunity.

“Studying abroad will really help me get a better grasp of how the language and culture interacts outside of the classroom, which will set me up to be more effective in the position I’m aiming for.”

The Boren Scholarship provides funding to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad. Boren Scholars represent many academic fields, but all are interested in studying less commonly taught languages.

Successful candidates will be able to relate their career goals, as well as country and language choice, to U.S. national security broadly defined. Applicants must demonstrate interest in government service, also broadly defined.

The award is for one semester or one academic year, and includes $8,000 for a summer program (special initiative for STEM students only; eight weeks minimum), $10,000 for a semester and $20,000 for a full academic year. Nearly 800 students in the country applied for this award, with 220 being selected for scholarships.