Three UNC-Chapel Hill students win Boren Awards


Rosa Cuppari and Alfredo Rojas were two of 119 graduate students chosen for David L. Boren Fellowships, and Andrew Nenow was one of 217 undergraduate students chosen for a David L. Boren Scholarship.

David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships are sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. Boren Awards provide U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of the United States. “To continue to play a leadership role in the world, it is vital that America’s future leaders have a deep understanding of the rest of the world,” says former U.S. Senator David Boren, the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program. “As we seek to lead through partnerships, understanding of other cultures and languages is absolutely essential.”

Rosa Cuppari

Originally from Kenilworth, NJ, Rosa Cuppari was awarded a Boren Fellowship to study Amharic in Ethiopia at Addis Ababa University. She completed her undergraduate degree at Georgetown University, where she majored in Science, Technology, and International Affairs and she recently finished her Master’s Degree in Engineering and Environmental Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is currently co-president of the Environmental Sciences and Engineering Student Organization and serves as a Clean Water Science Network Mentor.

Rosa intends to enroll at Addis Ababa University where she can join local students in the Female Student Association and the Addis Sustainable Life Initiative. She will also intern in the East Nile Technical Regional Office to gain expertise in the hydrology of the region. She plans to use the fellowship as an opportunity to lay the foundation for her PhD at UNC-Chapel Hill, which will focus on how weather variability impacts translates to financial risk for a country and can impact decision-making on infrastructure projects and international cooperation.

Her research expertise combined with her in-country experience in Ethiopia, as well as her Amharic and Arabic skills, have prepared her to develop a specialty in regional issues related to the Middle East North African region and Horn of Africa regions.

In the future she hopes to serve as a U.S. Ambassador. She is also interested in working in the intelligence community at the National Geospatial Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Alfredo Rojas

Alfredo Rojas was awarded a Boren Fellowship to study French at the University of Florida during the summer of 2020 and in Dakar, Senegal during the fall of the same year. Originally from Boynton Beach, Florida he is currently pursuing his PhD in Anthropology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Prior to his doctorate, Rojas studied Religion at Florida State University for his bachelor’s and received a Master’s of Theological Studies in African religious studies at Harvard University.

His PhD research focuses on the cooperative labor strategies in farming communities in West Africa. In the past he has received Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships, as well as support from the West African Research Association.

Directly after his Boren Fellowship, Rojas will conduct dissertation fieldwork in northwestern Ivory Coast among Mande farming households. His interest in French language study in Florida and Senegal and eventual research in Ivory Coast has significance for U.S. national security through understanding rural economic development and food security issues in West Africa more broadly.

He is currently considering federal careers ranging from international development with agencies such as USAID to the intelligence community, like the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) or the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

Andrew Nenow

Originally from Boone, North Carolina, UNC-Chapel Hill junior Andrew Nenow was awarded the Boren Scholarship to travel to China and learn Mandarin at Yunnan University during the 2020-21 academic year. A transfer from Appalachian State University, Nenow is a Computer and Information Science and Asian Studies major with a 3.7 GPA. He completed four classes of Mandarin during his undergraduate studies and was awarded the Phillips Ambassador Scholarship and the Foreign Language Area Scholarship. Outside the classroom, Andrew has actively participated in a variety of extra curriculum activities. He is a member of the Carolina Analytics & Data Science Club and works as a political science research assistant. This will not be Nenow’s first time abroad. In the past he volunteered in Parismina.

Nenow has always been interested in how daily lives are shaped by politics and international relations. He believes it is crucial to communicate with other diplomats in their native tongue to promote mutual respect. In the future Nenow hopes to work as a Foreign Service Officer in China and Taiwan.