News & Recipients

Three USF Students Receive Boren Awards

Three University of South Florida (USF) students have received Boren Awards for the 2019-20 academic year. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Security Education Program (NSEP), Boren Award recipients Frank Plageman, Mabel Proenza, and Logan Woods will study languages in world areas underrepresented in study abroad and critical to national security. In exchange for funding, recipients agree to work in the federal government after graduation for a period of at least one year. Boren Awards select undergraduate (scholarship) and graduate (fellowship) students based on academic and professional achievement as well as evidence of desire to provide national government service and leadership in their respective fields. Here’s a closer look at each USF recipient of this year’s Boren Awards.

Frank Plageman
Plageman, originally from Jupiter, Florida and a first-year Intelligence Studies graduate student at USF, received a Boren Fellowship for one year of Arabic language study in Israel. While in the country, he will embark on a five-month intensive Arabic program at the Givat Haviva Institute while staying with a host family, experiencing full immersion in the language and culture. At the conclusion of the program at Givat Haviva, he plans to spend seven months at the University of Haifa studying Modern Standard Arabic.

After completing his graduate degree in Intelligence Studies at USF, Plageman plans to work for the U.S. Department of State, specifically in Middle East political affairs involving peace negotiations.

Mabel Proenza
Proenza, a Tampa, Florida native and a Judy Genshaft Honors College sophomore majoring in International Studies and World Languages and Cultures with a concentration in Chinese at USF, will return to China with the Boren Scholarship. She will spend fall semester 2019 in a full immersion experience in Shanghai to hone her Mandarin language skills and advance her understanding of Chinese culture. Proenza previously studied abroad in China with the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and Freeman-ASIA Award.

After completion of her degree program at USF, Proenza plans to work as a Foreign Service Officer focusing on the East-Asian region, facilitating communication of American interests and organizing cross-cultural exchanges.

Logan Woods
Woods, a native of Cape Coral, Florida and a junior majoring in World Languages and Cultures with a concentration in Chinese at USF, received the Boren Scholarship for one semester of Chinese study in Taiwan. There, he will live in Taipei and refine his Mandarin language skills and cultural knowledge in a full immersion student experience – a valuable opportunity to further develop his language proficiency and a significant part of his major at USF. As a ROTC midshipman at USF, Woods previously studied in China through Project Global Officer (GO), a Department of Defense initiative which aims to improve language skills, regional expertise, and intercultural communication skills of future military officers.

After commissioning as a 2nd Lieutenant into the United States Marine Corps in Spring 2020 and spending a few years in the fleet, Woods plans to apply for the Foreign Area Officer (FAO) program, with the goal of maintaining a focus on China. As a FAO, he will work for the U.S. military in foreign affairs and cultural advising with U.S. officials.

At USF, students work with the Office of National Scholars (ONS) and Boren Awards Advisor, Ms. Lauren Bartshe-Hanlen, on their applications. Students spend upwards of six months researching study abroad plans and working on their applications. Recipient Frank Plageman shared that he focused on demonstrating why the scholarship fit his career path and that he had previous experience in the field. He explained, “I previously interned for a Member of Parliament in Israel who was Arab. [In my application] I demonstrated that I was interested in not only the language, but the culture of the Arabic-speaking minority in Israel.”

This year, Boren Scholars and Fellows from institutions across the U.S. will live in 39 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East to study 30 different languages. The most popular languages include Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Portuguese, Swahili, and Hindi. Undergraduate and graduate students at USF who are interested in applying for Boren Awards should contact Ms. Lauren Bartshe-Hanlen at to schedule an advising appointment.