UO sophomore awarded Boren Scholarship to study national security and linguistics in China

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Erik Thorbeck
Erik Thorbeck

University of Oregon sophomore Erik Thorbeck has been awarded a prestigious study abroad scholarship that focuses on national security and linguistics.

As a David L. Boren Scholar, Thorbeck will study in China from January to September 2015, spending one semester at Nanjing University and another semester completing an internship in the country. The scholarship is part of the National Security Education Program and is administered by the Institute of International Education. 

“International relations and national security have long been interests of mine,” said Thorbeck, a double major in Chinese and Planning, Public Policy and Management (PPPM). “The service requirements of the Boren Scholarship opens doors to positions in these fields and all recipients of this scholarship are required to work in a position of national security for at least one year after graduation.”

The Boren Scholarship provides up to $20,000 for undergraduate and graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to the U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad programs. The awards focus on a broad definition of national security that includes challenges of global society, such as sustainable development, environmental issues, disease, migration and economic competiveness.

Thorbeck – who is from Portland and a graduate of the International School of Beaverton – “hopes to develop professional-level fluency in Mandarin, and successfully apply it to a professional Chinese work environment.” He is also part of the University of Oregon's Chinese Flagship Program.

“Everyone in the Office of International Affairs is delighted with Erik’s success in this highly selective, national competition,” said Stephen Wooten, associate vice president and director of UO Study Abroad. “It is gratifying to see all his hard work pay off.  His experiences in China will put him in an excellent position to contribute in meaningful ways to important debates and policies in the years to come.”

In addition to studying and working in China, Thorbeck plans to participate in skateboarding competitions and a mountain biking trip.

The UO has had anywhere from one to four Boren Scholars each year for the past 11 years.

For more information about the Boren Awards, visit https://www.borenawards.org.

- By Heidi Hiaasen, Public Affairs Communications