Third Ohio State Student Receives Prestigious NSEP Boren Award

June 23, 2020

Third Ohio State Student Receives Prestigious NSEP Boren Award

Larkin Cleland

A third Ohio State student has been awarded an NSEP Boren Undergraduate Scholarship for the 2020-21 school year.

Larkin Cleland, a junior with a major in Islamic Studies and Geography, will study Persian as well as the Iranian, Afghan, and Tajik dialects of the language in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Cleland joins Victoria Washington, a junior with a major in Korean and a minor in Chinese, and Caitlyn Bahm, who graduated in May with a degree in security & intelligence from the Department of International Studies and minors in Korean, Spanish and global public health as recipients of the Boren scholarship. Washington and Bahm, whose awards were announced in April, will both study in Korea.

Cleland said receiving the Boren scholarship allows him to expand on two years of Persian classes at Ohio State to become fluent in the language and learn more about the culture, including celebrating Nowruz (also known as the Persian New Year) and Ramadan, which is observed by Muslims as a month of spiritual reflection, self-improvement and heightened devotion and worship.

“I hope to bring that language knowledge back to Ohio and use it to help Persian-speaking refugees and immigrants in my volunteering with local nonprofits,” Cleland said.

David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships are sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. Boren Awards provide 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 our nation. In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients agree to work in the federal government for a period of at least one year. Scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students and up to $24,000 to U.S. graduate students.

Last year, the Institute of International Education, which administers the awards on behalf of NSEP, received 851 applications from undergraduate students for the Boren Scholarship and 244 were awarded; 273 graduate students applied for the Boren Fellowship and 106 were awarded.

They lived in 39 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East, studying 30 different languages. The most popular languages include Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Portuguese, Swahili, and Hindi.

Since 1994, over 6,000 students have received Boren Awards. Boren Scholars and Fellows represent a vital pool of highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal national security arena, and program alumni are contributing to the critical missions of agencies throughout the federal government. An independent not-for-profit founded in 1919, IIE is among the world's largest and most experienced international education and exchange organizations.

Undergraduate and graduate students interested in applying for the Boren Awards should contact Rebecca Bias ( at the Center for Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Many thanks for the ongoing support of Elizabeth Angerman in the Office of International Affairs.