Boren Scholars to Study in China, Kazakhstan

Issue Date: 
July 6, 2015

Four University of Pittsburgh students have been honored with David L. Boren Scholarships from the National Security Education Program. This is the 13th consecutive year that Pitt students have competed successfully for David L. Boren Awards for International Study. 

Pitt’s 2015 Boren Scholars are Joseph L. Andros, a senior from Moon Township, Pa.; Brianna F. Gasgonia, a junior from Walnut, Calif.; Joseph W. Sell, a junior from Temple, Pa.; and Marjorie R. Tolsdorf, a junior from McLean, Va. 

The scholarships provide as much as $20,000 per academic year for U.S. undergraduate students to study foreign languages in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. national security interests. Pitt’s students will join more than 170 other honorees studying across the world. 

Joseph L. Andros is participating this summer in a Mandarin language program at Peking University in Beijing, China. He also is conducting research on China’s economy and international financial policies. Upon his return to the United States in August, he will receive a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. Andros said he hopes to eventually serve as an economic officer for the Department of State or an international trade analyst for the Library of Congress. 

Beginning in August, Brianna F. Gasgonia will spend one year at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where she will study Russian. 

After she completes her program in June 2016, she will return to Pitt, where she is majoring in Russian and German as well as cultural studies. Gasgonia would like to serve as a diplomacy officer for the U.S. Department of State. She is currently a public affairs intern at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany. 

This fall, Joseph W. Sell will begin a Mandarin language program at Beijing Foreign Studies University in China. He will spend the spring semester in Kunming, China.  

Upon his return next August, Sell will continue his undergraduate studies at Pitt, where he is majoring in Chinese and is a member of the Three Rivers Battalion Army ROTC Unit. Sell hopes to work as an officer within one of the U.S. government’s intelligence or national security agencies.

Marjorie R. Tolsdorf will spend one year in Kazakhstan completing an advanced Russian language and area studies program. She hopes to become a media analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency. Upon her return in August 2016,

Tolsdorf will continue her undergraduate studies at Pitt, where she is majoring in political science.

The National Security Education Program is a federal initiative designed to develop broader and more qualified pools of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. The David L. Boren Awards for International Study are named for the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program in 1991. Boren served as governor of Oklahoma from 1974 to 1978 and as a U.S. senator from Oklahoma from 1979 to 1994. He currently serves as the president of the University of Oklahoma.