George Mason University

News at Mason

Mason students pick from coveted scholarships to study abroad

June 13, 2017   /   by John Hollis

Khue-Tu Nguyen (left), Beverly Harp (center) and Asha Athman (right) stand in front of the Fenwick Library on the Fairfax Campus of George Mason University.

Khue-Tu Nguyen, Beverly Harp, and Asha Athman landed prestigious scholarships that will carry them overseas to further study a language while serving as American cultural ambassadors. Photo by Ron Aira.

It’s noteworthy enough to land one prestigious scholarship that will send you overseas to master a foreign language while serving as an American cultural ambassador of sorts.

But George Mason University’s Khue-Tu (KT) Nguyen, Beverly Harp and Asha Athman received multiple such scholarship offers. All three were offered the national security-based Boren Scholarships, while two of the three scored offers from the coveted Fulbright and Critical Language Scholarships.

LaNitra Berger, the director of Office Fellowships for the Honors College, called the accomplishments of the three students “almost unheard of.”

Nguyen was the biggest winner of the group, drawing offers from the Fulbright Scholarship, the Boren Scholarship and the CLS. The 21-year-old Falls Church native and neuroscience major has decided to accept the Boren and CLS scholarships.

“The Fulbright right now doesn’t serve my immediate goal,” Nguyen, 21, said. “I really want to achieve professional fluency in Mandarin, so I think the Boren would best help me do that.”

Nguyen, who will head to China this summer before heading to Taiwan to study Mandarin, was well into work in her neuroscience major two years ago when she elected to immerse herself into learning a new language.

“I grew up watching Jackie Chan and all those movies,” Nguyen said. “I thought, ‘Wow, it would be so cool to understand them in their own context.’ ”

Like Nguyen, Athman has also accepted the Boren and CLS scholarships that will carry her to Morocco and then to Jordan starting this summer to continue her studies in Arabic. The 22-year-old global affairs major from Chantilly, Va., will continue her research on migration studies and migration policies in the hopes of someday helping to end the refugee problems currently in the Middle East and Africa.

Nguyen and Athman were able to accept both the Boren and CLS scholarships because of the starting date flexibility afforded by both programs. But because the scholarships are exclusively for full-time students, neither Nguyen nor Athman graduated May 20. They will remain classified as full-time students while studying abroad during the upcoming academic year and will instead graduate from Mason in spring 2018.

In exchange for a stipend up to $20,000, Boren Scholarship recipients must commit to working for the federal government for at least one year following graduation.

Harp was forced to choose, so she selected the Fulbright Scholarship offer over the Boren Scholarship. The 21-year-old Northern New Jersey native, who earned a BA in global affairs in May and was this year’s Senior of the Year, is on her way to India to begin her yearlong work on decentralizing climate finance. Harp, who is fluent in Hindi, said her goal is to help climate funds reach smaller organizations lacking in the infrastructure needed to get through a vast bureaucratic maze.

“People all across the world are trying to solve the problem of climate change,” she said. “To be a part of those conversations transnationally is really an exciting thing. It’s a huge challenge, but it’s also a challenge that can bring people together.”