May 14, 2012

Student wins scholarship to study in Russia

Tadhg Fendt ’14 has become the first student from Lewis & Clark’s Russian Program to receive a Boren Scholarship. The award will support Fendt’s language study abroad.

Tadhg Fendt ’14 has become the first student from Lewis & Clark’s Russian Program to receive a Boren Scholarship. The award will support Fendt’s language study abroad.

Funded by the National Security Education Program, Boren Scholarships are intended to help undergraduates acquire skills and experiences in areas of the world deemed critical to national security. Each award provides up to $20,000 for a student to study a less commonly taught language, such as Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, or Swahili, in a country that is of strategic importance to the United States. Upon completion of their studies, participants must commit to seeking work in the federal government.

Fendt will be participating in two language-intensive study abroad programs in Russia: a summer program at Vladivostok State University and the Lewis & Clark overseas program in St. Petersburg, where he will study at St. Petersburg State University.

Tadhg Fendt ’14
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Major: Economics

What drew you to studying abroad? What excites you about the idea of learning in a foreign country?

Studying abroad was not something I knew I wanted to do before coming to college. I started taking Russian classes on a whim during my first year and ended up really enjoying them. It was after a couple semesters in those classes that I really started thinking about study abroad, and eventually it became a no-brainer.

If you want to advance your language acquisition beyond elementary levels, the best way to do that is through immersion. What I am most excited about is that I will actually be able to focus all my time on Russian. While I am amazed at the progress I’ve made in Russian, starting from not even knowing the alphabet, I have often felt that it takes a back seat to some of my other academics. It will be great to not have a billion things going on and to be able to just concentrate on the language.

How do you think your Lewis & Clark education has contributed to you seeing yourself as a citizen in a global community?

Lewis & Clark is definitely a place that highlights the growing reality of global citizenship. We have a large and vibrant international student community, our student body as a whole is curious about the world, and a majority of us study abroad. We have a very strong foreign language department that has sent many a Fulbright scholar abroad and has brought many foreign Fulbright scholars to Lewis & Clark to help with teaching.

Portland itself has large immigrant populations and many different cultures. All of these factors serve as reminders that there is a whole world out there. I think that some of these things are so ingrained in the Lewis & Clark vibe that we may take them for granted at times, but I think once I get to Russia, the preparation I’ve received through experiences here will become apparent.

What are your plans for the future, and how do you think your Boren Scholarship experience will figure in those plans?

The Boren Scholarship actually dictates my future plans somewhat. In exchange for the funding, all recipients must sign a contract committing to at least one year of service with the federal government. They prefer that Boren scholars work with either the Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, or one of several agencies in the intelligence community after graduation, although there are a few alternative options as well.

This works well for me as I’ve always had strong interests in foreign policy, international relations, and security, and was considering federal employment before I applied for the Boren. These agencies offer a staggering number of job options, so I’m sure it will take me some time and research to refine my general interests, but I think having lots of choices is a good thing.