Clemson students receive prestigious Fulbright, Boren awards

CLEMSON — Three Clemson students have received prestigious academic awards this year: the Fulbright Scholarshipthe Boren Fellowship and the Boren Scholarship. These programs will give Sloan Nietert, Irene Cheng and Justin Giles the opportunity to study and live abroad and expand their academic excellence.

Sloan Nietert of Mount Pleasant, a mathematical sciences and computer science double major, has been selected for a Fulbright Award, a program that aims to increase understanding between citizens of the United States and citizens of other countries. Nietert will spend the next nine months in Hungary as he was selected for the one slot available to conduct research at the Alfréd Rényi Institute of Mathematics.

As an undergraduate, he has had the opportunity to study abroad in Budapest, which he called an incredible learning experience.

“The classes were really excellent and I was able to learn from award-winning experts in their field,” Nietert said.

Now he is excited to go back and reconnect with Hungary, where he will be taking classes with the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program learning Hungarian and researching high-dimensional geometric structures.

Irene Cheng of Charleston, who will graduate from Clemson with a dual degree in bioengineering and modern languages with a focus in Mandarin Chinese, was chosen for the Boren Fellowship. She is the first Clemson student to be awarded this fellowship, which was created by the National Security Education Program. It provides funding for select graduate students to study less-common languages in foreign regions that are critical to U.S. interests. Cheng will be traveling to Chengdu, China, for 10 months where she will study Mandarin and participate in a medical internship.

For Cheng, this fellowship means she gets to gain experience in both of her majors and fulfill her love of service.

“It’s a good way for me to combine both of my interests in Mandarin and in the medical field,” she said. “I also really like that there is a service requirement because I could really see myself working in the public sector and serving my country.”

Justin Giles of Charlotte, North Carolina, an economics major, was selected for the Boren Scholarship, which also is a creation of the National Security Education Program. The scholarship is geared toward students that want to work in the federal national security arena.

Giles is the second Clemson student to ever receive this scholarship and he will be using his funding to go to Tanzania for a full academic year. While there, Giles will be staying with a Tanzanian family, learning Swahili and interning with a local company. He believes the Boren Scholarship is be a great fit for him because his career goals center on foreign engagement.

“For a while I’ve been wanting to get more engaged in global politics, and career-wise I’ve been thinking about joining the foreign service,” Giles said. “I’d like to be a diplomat somewhere and work on creating policies that help the U.S. better engage with East African countries in mutually beneficial ways.”

Stephen Wainscott, Clemson’s Special International Programs coordinator and Fulbright U.S. Student Program adviser, describes awards like the Boren and the Fulbright as “life-changing.”

“These awards are what I call the ‘national academic championships’ that we can all be proud of at Clemson,” he said. “When you think about what a student has to do to win one of these things, or even just be competitive, they really have to be all-stars.”

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