Pitt Honors College Student Receives 2009 Boren Scholarship To Study in Georgia

Issue Date: 
August 26, 2009

University of Pittsburgh Honors College student Natalia Arutynov, a senior with a double major in economics and political science in the School of Arts and Sciences, has been named a 2009 National Security Education Program David L. Boren Scholar. Arutynov, a resident of Upper Holland, Pa., is a first-generation U.S. citizen of Armenian descent who was born in the Republic of Georgia.

Boren Scholarships provide as much as $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. national security interests. Scholars study less commonly taught languages, including Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, and Swahili. The award is funded by the National Security Education Program (NSEP).

This is the seventh consecutive year that a Pitt student has been awarded the honor, and Arutynov is the 19th Pitt student to receive a Boren Scholarship since 1997. She plans to use the scholarship to continue her study of the language, history, and culture of the East European nation of Georgia during the 2009-10 academic year.

Alec Stewart, dean of the Honors College, says Arutynov is an ideal candidate for the award.

“Natalia’s scholarly ability and Armenian background give her the international foundation and infrastructure to benefit from a year in Georgia,” said Stewart. “Upon her return, she will be a stellar resource for other students with an interest in Eastern Europe and foreign affairs.”

In addition to working on her majors, Arutynov is pursuing a certificate in Russian and East European Study from Pitt’s University Center for International Studies. While in Georgia, Arutynov will attend the Tbilisi State University, where she will participate in 30 weeks of academic coursework focused on Georgian phonetics, grammar, composition, oral comprehension, and reading. She also will live with a local family throughout the year.

Arutynov’s future plans include attending graduate school and  focusing on foreign affairs, followed by a career in U.S. diplomacy involving East European countries. She said she views her year in Georgia as an opportunity to strengthen her knowledge of the complex issues surrounding the people of Eastern Europe.

“It is in the interest of the United States to understand what it means that many of these nation’s citizens still possess a Soviet or post-Soviet mentality, and that they are still struggling to regain their identity,” said Arutynov. “International diplomacy is an integral part of U.S. national security, and as Eastern European states continue to grow politically and economically, there is a great demand to extend and strengthen our ties with these nations.”

Arutynov spent the first five years of her life in Georgia before immigrating to the United States in 1991. She said growing up in a home where multiple languages were spoken helped her to develop a passion for her native heritage. Since arriving at Pitt, she has received two Fulbright-Hays scholarships as well as a Slavic Workshop Scholarship to study in Moscow during her sophomore year. Arutynov is fluent in Russian and has intermediate abilities in French.

The Boren Scholarship is named for David L. Boren, a former U.S. senator and principal author of the legislation that created the NSEP in 1991.