Two area students were among five West­ern Kentucky University students who earned Boren Scholarships of up to $20,000 to fund up to a year of critical language-focused study abroad. All five students are fourth-year students in the Chinese Flagship Program and Mahurin Honors College and will use their scholarships to fund their Capstone Year abroad in China or Taiwan.

Brian Anderson is an economics, international affairs, Asian religions and cultures and Chinese major, and the son of Kimberly and Heath of Buffalo. He has previously earned a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study in China. Anderson is a four-year member of the WKU Forensics team and is completing his honors thesis on Chinese President Xi and Chinese-Taiwan relations. During academic year 2017-18, he served as a U.S. Department of State Virtual Student Foreign Service intern for the U.S. Embassy Beijing, compiling economic reports and helping to manage the Embassy Trade and Investment Weibo account. He is interested in the potential of strengthening international trade to enhance American national security and plans to pursue a career as an economic officer in the Foreign Service. He will study at Nanjing University in Nanjing, China.

Austin Barnes is a Chinese and military leadership major and the son of Rebecca Wofford of Hodgenville. He has previously earned Benjamin A. Gilman and Freeman-ASIA scholarships to study in China. A contracted ROTC cadet, he will soon commission as a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Barnes plans to pursue a career as an Army Foreign Area Officer, working in conjunction with the state department to provide political-military advice, cultural expertise in a military context and build and maintain relationships with foreign leaders. He will attend National Taiwan University in Taipei.

The Boren Awards program is part of the National Security Education Program, a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. It provides U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of the nation. In exchange for funding, Boren Award recipients agree to work in the federal government for a period of at least one year. “The National Security Education Program,” according to Dr. Michael A. Nugent, NSEP director, “is helping change the U.S. higher education system and the way Americans approach the study of foreign languages and cultures.”