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A Dream Realized: Drexel Student To Study Abroad in Russia

May 13, 2013

Kailey Kluge

Kailey Kluge’s friends used to tease her about becoming a Russian spy in a Bond movie, but it seems as though she’ll be working on the other side now that she was named a Boren Scholar last month.

Kluge, a pre-junior international area studies major with a concentration in business and economics and minors in Russian and political science, will study and work abroad in Russia for the 2013-14 school year with funding from the Boren Awards for International Study. She will also spend a year in government service post-award in agreement with the terms of the award.  

While studying at St. Petersburg State University through the CIEE St. Petersburg study abroad program for two terms, Kluge will live with a Russian host family. She plans on doing a politics-oriented co-op in Moscow, hopefully at the U.S. Embassy or at a university, for the remainder of the year.

“I wanted to apply for the Boren pretty much as soon as I knew it existed,” Kluge said. “It’s all about what I want to do: study the language of a foreign country and work for the government.”

The Boren Scholarship awards up to $20,000 to undergraduate students interested in studying abroad and learning the language of countries that are critical to U.S. interests but underrepresented in study abroad programs.

“This really is an opportunity for people-to-people exchange and for improving relations from the ground up,” said Cindy Schaarschmidt, assistant director of the Drexel Fellowships Office.

Kluge has already exchanged letters and emails and video-chatted with Russian online and pen pals that she met through a language network. She plans on visiting some of them once she arrives in Russia in the fall and has already talked about her plans to study abroad, which were set before she won the Boren Scholar award.

As a freshman, Kluge heard about the Boren scholarship when she started studying Russian. Though she entered Drexel as an English major and later switched to international area studies, the desire to live and study in Russia remained a constant. She plans on working as a Foreign Service officer, with the end goal of being a diplomat in Russia or working with the NSA.

According to Schaarschmidt, Kluge is the first Drexel student to go to Russia with a Boren Scholarship. Previous Drexel Boren Scholarship recipients won awards to live in Jordan, South Korea and Serbia, but only the student who won for Serbia actually ended up accepting for one academic year in 2004.

Kluge found out she won the award 10 days after the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15 that heightened U.S.-Russian tensions after two brothers who immigrated from Russia were named for their suspected involvement in the attack and its aftermath.

“It almost made me feel even more strongly about going,” she said. “I get frustrated by misconceptions.”

Considering the purpose and expectations of the Boren Scholar award, it seems like she’s the right girl for the job.

The Boren Awards, established by the National Security Education Program , are designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. Established by Congress in 1991, the Boren Awards provide funding for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to study the languages and cultures of Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East.

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