May 08, 2018, BY Beth Kaszuba

Mikaela Thomas '20 sits before a forsythia bush.
Mikaela Thomas '20 is the first Bucknell student to secure a David L. Boren scholarship, which will support her study of Arabic language in northern Africa. Photo by Emily Paine, Communications

International relations major Mikaela Thomas '20's goal of doing good on a global scale will be advanced by a prestigious David L. Boren scholarship that will send her to Morocco for one year, beginning this fall, to continue the study of Arabic she's undertaken at Bucknell.

Thomas — the first Bucknell student to win a Boren award — was among 221 applicants chosen from a pool of 794 undergraduates. She said the scholarship, which is sponsored by the National Security Education Program, fits neatly with her goal of working in federal intelligence.

Boren recipients are sent to nations considered important to national security to gain language skills and cultural experience. In exchange, students agree to work for the federal government for at least one year.

The federally sponsored initiative is designed to build a pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language proficiency.

Thomas credited Professor Martin Isleem, director of Bucknell's Arabic studies program, with encouraging her to apply for the competitive funding.

"I like the idea of helping on a really large scale," she added. "National security is very relevant today."

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