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Two Eberly College students awarded Boren Scholarship

Two  West Virginia University students will work for solutions to world problems and provide education opportunities to refugees as Boren Scholars in Oman and Jordan— two countries identified as critical to U.S. interests.

Both 2020 recipients,  Adam Craig, of Wheeling and  Myya Helm, of West Union, are students in the  Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, and have completed the  Honors Foundations program.

Adam Craig
Adam Craig

Craig is slated to return to Oman in 2021 to further his study of Arabic at the Noor Majan Arabic Institute in Muscat. With varied experiences abroad, including a National Model United Nations conference in China, Craig said what makes him most excited about becoming a Boren Scholar is the opportunity to not just talk about the problems caused by global conflicts, but to also work together on solutions.

“I feel excited about my generation and what we’re capable of doing for the world, and the ideas we have and our devotion to making the world a better place,” he said.

Craig said his dream job after graduation would be to work for the United Nations Development Programme, which would allow him to utilize his language skills in both Arabic and Spanish, two official languages at the United Nations.

He studied in Ibri, Oman in 2018 as a Critical Language Scholar and as a senior  international studies major with minors in mathematics, economics and political science, has focused his academic efforts on studying Africa and the Middle East and international development. He is also a member of the  Peace Corps Prep certificate program.

Craig participated in four National Model United Nations conferences and spent the fall semester in 2019 studying Spanish in Barcelona, Spain, and, prior to travel restrictions put in place for students abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic, started this spring semester interning at the United States Embassy in Tanzania.

Myya Helm
Myya Helm

Helm will study Arabic at the Qasid Arabic Institute in Amman, Jordan. Helm is a senior double-major in political science and international studies with a minor in Arabic studies, with emphases in security and diplomacy, as well as pre-law and legal studies.

When Helm goes to Jordan, scheduled for January 2021, to study, she plans to continue international community outreach and education, working with more non-governmental organizations in Jordan to help provide educational resources to refugees there.

In the future, she would like to follow her passion for education by becoming a Regional English Language Officer in the U.S. Department of State Office of English Language Programs. To help achieve this goal, Helm has secured an internship in the office for the fall semester.

“Coming from such a small place in West Virginia, I didn’t have many opportunities to learn about different languages, cultures and religions. Being a cultural minority myself, I’ve always wanted to do that outreach,” Helm said.

Helm first went abroad to Japan in the summer of 2018, where she both studied Japanese and taught English to others. During her time in Amman, Jordan as a Gilman Scholar in 2019, Helm studied Arabic at the Qasid Arabic Institute and also worked with a non-governmental organization to teach English to refugees at a local community center.

Helm continued working with students from abroad when she returned to campus, volunteering as a conversation partner in WVU’s Intensive English Program. Helm also competed in the Model United Nations conference in Xi’an, China.

“We are so proud of Adam and Myya and so pleased that they are being honored in this way,” said Amy Cyphert, director of the  ASPIRE Office. “They are exactly the kinds of students the Boren Scholarship was created for: they are committed to careers in service, eager to improve their already impressive language skills, and well on their way to promising careers in the national security sector.”

While no study abroad programs are currently permitted by the State Department due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Boren program is allowing students plenty of flexibility to complete their programs, allowing recipients to adjust their start dates to as late as March 1, 2021, if needed, and even allowing them to adjust their country of study should the coronavirus necessitate it. Currently Craig and Helm plan on beginning their programs in January.

Recipients of the Boren Scholarship are committed to public service, committing to work for a year in the federal government in an area of U.S. national security interest, such as with the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, or the United States Agency for International Development.

The Boren Scholarship, administered by the National Security Education Program, funds students from diverse fields to study abroad in regions typically underrepresented by U.S. study abroad programs.

Students interested in applying for the Boren or any other nationally competitive awards should contact the ASPIRE Office at  aspire@mail.wvu.edu to set up an appointment. Virtual appointments will be available throughout the summer months.