Pitt Student and Alumnus Receive Boren Awards

Issue Date: 
May 19, 2014

A University of Pittsburgh graduate student and a recent alumnus have been honored with 2014 David L. Boren Awards for International Study from the National Security Education Program. 

Courtney Queen, a graduate student in Pitt’s School of Social Work, has received a David L. Boren Fellowship to further develop her Swahili language skills in Kenya. As part of the fellowship, she will study the mental health effects of female genital cutting amongst women in native tribes within the country. Zachary Patton, a recent graduate from Pitt’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, has received a David L. Boren Scholarship to further develop his Portuguese language skills in Brazil. As part of the scholarship, he will participate in two programs that will investigate social, environmental policy, and energy security issues in Brazil. 

This is the 12th consecutive year that University of Pittsburgh students have received Boren Awards. The awards provide U.S. graduate and undergraduate students with the resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experiences 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 following graduation. 

David L. Boren Fellowships provide as much as $30,000 to U.S. graduate students, while the David L. Boren Scholarships provide a maximum of $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students and recent graduates. 

In addition to developing her Swahili language skills, Queen will study the mental health of women who have undergone female genital cutting within Kenya’s Kisii, Maasai, and Somali tribes, for a period of nine months. 

Queen’s Boren Fellowship will be an extension of her doctoral studies at Pitt—an assessment of understanding the physical health and mental health status of African women in the United States affected by the practice of female genital cutting. 

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, and a resident of Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, Queen is a licensed social worker who is pursuing a PhD degree in social work at Pitt. She earned a Master of Social Work degree at the University of Toledo as well as a Bachelors of Arts degree in psychology at Ohio State University. 

In addition to developing his Portuguese language skills, Patton will take part in two research programs in the Brazilian cities of Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro.

From September through December 2014, Patton will participate in the School for International Training’s “Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development,” program in Fortaleza, Brazil. The program gives participants an opportunity to interact with Brazilian ethnic groups to gain insight into the challenges and benefits of implementing social change within a multicultural environment. 

From January to June 2015, Patton will take part in the Council on International Educational Exchange’s “Environment and Sustainability Studies” program in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The program is comprised of both intensive coursework and field studies analyzing the region’s economic, environmental, and social issues. 

This summer, Patton will conduct a research project in Switzerland through a Summer Undergraduate Research Award from the Dietrich School’s Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity. Patton also will serve as an intern in the Washington, D.C., office of U.S. Congressman Bill Shuster, representative of Pennsylvania’s 9th congressional district.

A first generation college student from Kittanning, Pa., Patton earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Pitt’s April 27 Commencement Convocation. While a student at Pitt, he majored in communication and rhetoric as well as philosophy and minored in Portuguese. He received Pitt’s 2014 Omicron Delta Kappa Senior of the Year Award—one of Pitt’s most prestigious undergraduate honors. 

The Boren Awards are named for David L. Boren, principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program in 1991. Boren served as the governor of Oklahoma from 1974 to 1978, and as a U.S. senator from Oklahoma from 1979 to 1994; since 1994, he has served as president of the University of Oklahoma.