For Colleen Fagan '15, Le Moyne College's first-ever recipient of the prestigious Boren Scholarship
, her adventure started even before she left the United States.
In April, she learned that she was one of only 171 students (out of 750 applicants) accepted into program. Originally assigned to the nation of Nepal, her plans changed following the devastating earthquake that struck the nation on April 25, killing nearly 10,000 people.
Ultimately she was assigned to India, and she left for the country in early September. For the fall semester, Colleen is located at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Jaipur, India, taking intensive Hindi language classes. In the spring, she will participate in a study abroad program through the School for International Training in the capital of New Delhi, studying Hindi, taking public health policy courses, and doing independent public health research.
"Jaipur is a wonderful city and there are many monuments and forts around," said Colleen, soon after arriving in India. "It is called the 'Pink City' due to the many pink-colored buildings and it's a beautiful place. Life in India is relatively different than in the U.S. and it has been more of an adjustment period than I expected, but it is fascinating and I am quite enjoying it."
The Institute of International Education, on behalf of the National Security Education Program, awards Boren Scholarships to undergraduate students from across the U.S. The program provide opportunities to study less commonly taught languages in critical regions that are typically underrepresented in study abroad programs. Those selected will live in 40 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Following her nine-month experience in India, she will return to the U.S. and work for the Federal government in yet-to-be-determined department (possibly the State, Defense, Homeland Security, or Intelligence offices.) In exchange for funding a scholarship valued at $22,000, Boren recipients agree to work in the federal government for at least one year.
Service was a vital component of Colleen's experience while an undergrad at Le Moyne, and one of the reasons she was interested in pursuing a Boren Scholarship.
"I have worked to incorporate the Jesuit values such as serving and caring for others into my daily life through alternative break service trips to New Orleans, the Commonwealth of Dominica, and Ecuador, and I am fortunate to continue this in India," Fagan said. "I am grateful to Le Moyne for helping to prepare me for this experience abroad. Even if I didn't realize it at the time. I've come here with an open mind, lots of flexibility, and a love for understanding other people and cultures... I hope this is the beginning of a long career giving back and serving others on a world-wide level.”
Despite the fact that her assignment changed, Fagan is hopeful that she will be able to travel to Nepal and volunteer at some point. She urges others to "continue to keep the earthquake victims of Nepal in your thoughts and prayers as they are still working through the aftermath of the disaster."
"This is an incredible accomplishment for Colleen and is symbolic of the caliber of students at Le Moyne," said President Linda LeMura. "Beyond the overall experience she will gain from the scholarship, Colleen will also provide vital service work, one of the hallmarks of a Jesuit education."