Steven E. Schmidt '15 has won a coveted $20,000 Boren Scholarship to study abroad for a year in Santiago, Chile.
Schmidt, an international studies and Spanish major from Loveland, Ohio, will study at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile during the 2013-14 academic year. His focus will be on economic development and Spanish.
Pursuit of a Boren Scholarship is highly competitive. Among 947 undergraduate students who applied this year, 161 were chosen. The program is sponsored by the National Security Education Program, a federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. Scholarships up to $20,000 are directed to students who will study in countries considered critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad. The program is tied to broad national security interests and includes a service requirement to work for a year in the federal government in a position with national security responsibilities.
"The classes I've taken were really helpful in forming my proposal," Schmidt said. He mentioned specifically the course "Politics of Understanding," taught by Nancy Powers, visiting assistant professor of political science. And he was supported by Marne Ausec, director of the Kenyon Center for Global Engagement.
"We're really excited," Ausec said. "It's very competitive. This is a way for them to have a leg up in terms of applying for job when they're done.
"What's interesting about Steven is that Spanish is not typically a language they fund. He understands what's going on in Latin America from a political and economic perspective."
Schmidt believes that economic development in Latin America is important to U.S. national security. "Economic prosperity in Latin America leads to a safer Western Hemisphere," he said. "Economic development has the potential to help so many people in Latin America where there are huge wealth disparities between the rich and the poor," he said. "People have been studying for years to find a development strategy that is effective in closing the income gap. Development has the potential to improve the quality of life and standards of living."