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Matt Fouts – Boren Fellowship, Japan

Matt Fouts, a JDMA graduate student in International Studies, received the Boren Fellowship in 2017. He writes of his experience, including encouragement for future Boren Fellowship Awardees:

“The Boren Fellowship is a great award for students interested in language study, international research, and federal government service.  Boren offers two awards: the Boren Scholarship for undergraduates and the Boren Fellowship for graduate students.  The Boren Fellowship provides up to $24,000 for tuition, travel, insurance, and living expenses for 12 months of study.  I received the Boren Fellowship as a concurrent JD/MA International Studies M.A. student in 2017 and spent over a year studying Japanese at Waseda University in Tokyo.

“The parameters of the Boren Fellowship are relatively straightforward.  In your application, you must identify a language and an area of research of interest.  Your arguments in the award must explain why the language, country, and research issue are important to the national security of the United States.  Upon selection, you agree to a year of federal service after graduation in identified agencies: the State Department, Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Intelligence Community.  While an agreement for a year of government service is intimidating, Boren assists you in finding that employment.  As a Boren alum you have access to priority hiring for certain job postings and a special hiring website only for Boren recipients.  Most fun, each fall there is a Boren hiring fair in Washington D.C. where your travel and accommodations are covered.

“My experience with Boren in Japan was fantastic.  Japan is more expensive than most countries that Boren sends its recipients to; however, the financial support provided by Boren essentially covered my entire time there.  The goal of Boren is to create graduate-educated individuals with linguistic and cultural understandings of their selected countries.  As a result, Boren strives to support your expenses to the fullest degree possible, allowing you the time and financial ability to travel within your host country, gaining not only language, but also cultural understandings.

“My research centered on the military base issue in Okinawa, a tropical set of islands hundreds of kilometers, and a plane ride, south of Tokyo.  With Boren, I was able to spend extended time in Okinawa attending lectures, protests, etc. – all deepening my understanding of an issue important to the foreign policy of the United States.  I recommend Boren for anyone interested and would be happy to answer any inquires, particularly concerns regarding the required government service and my experiences navigating it so far.  It is worth noting for interested graduate students that the Boren Fellowship is significantly less competitive in terms of available awards and applicants, especially considering the large amount of funding possible.” — Matt Fouts, JDMA, International Studies