Undergraduate selected to receive prestigious Boren Scholarship

contact: Korey J. Force
| WMU News
Headshot, Caitlin Wiley.


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A Western Michigan University student has been awarded a prestigious federal scholarship and has big plans for her upcoming year studying abroad in Brazil.

Caitlin Wiley, a senior from Fenton, received a $20,000 David L. Boren Scholarship to spend the fall 2018 and spring 2019 semesters at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, where she will be studying Portuguese.

Wiley was selected as one of 221 Boren Scholarship recipients out of 794 applicants from around the country to receive a 2018-19 academic-year award. She and her fellow Boren Scholars will be studying some 30 critical languages while living in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.


Wiley is an honors student double majoring in Spanish and global and international studies and minoring in Latin American studies. In 2016, she studied abroad in Argentina and felt the impacts of economic and political crisis in that country. She chose to pursue a study abroad experience in Brazil to expand the depth and breadth of her Latin America expertise by studying Portuguese.

Wiley kneeling on a boardwalk next to a penguin.

Wiley had a chance to do some sightseeing while studying in Latin America in 2016.

Beside studying language, Wiley wants to experience the variety of regional cultures in Brazil, including cities, beaches, mountains and the Amazon rainforest. She also plans to take extracurricular classes in dance, surfing and cooking.

Wiley has an intrinsic motivation for applying for the Boren Scholarship—her long-held public service ethos, which she developed after being introduced to federal public service in high school.

"I realized immediately it was the career path I wanted to pursue," she says. "Since then, I have learned a lot about what it means to be a public servant through interning for a state representative and a U.S. senator."

Wiley's dream job is to become a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State. That dream just might come true, as Boren Scholarship alumni are fast-tracked into federal careers after graduation.

About the Boren Awards

Boren scholarships and fellowships, collectively known as the Boren Awards, give both undergraduate and graduate students the chance to develop their language and international skills in areas of the world that are critical to America's continued security and stability.

Sponsored by the National Security Education Program, they are part of a major federal initiative aimed at increasing the number of U.S. citizens who possess foreign language and international skills. Scholars receive up to $20,000 while fellows receive up to $30,000, but all Boren Award winners agree to work in the federal government for at least one year.

"Never in our history has it been more important for America's future leaders to have deep understanding of the rest of the world," says David Boren, who as a U.S. senator laid the groundwork for the legislation that created the National Security Education Program. "As we seek to lead through partnerships, respect for and understanding of other cultures and languages is absolutely essential."

Application assistance available

WMU provides assistance to students applying for grants that support long-term linguistic or cultural immersion in a foreign country. Students are encouraged to learn more by contacting Dr. Michelle Metro-Roland at michelle.metro-roland@wmich.edu.

Metro-Roland is director of faculty and global program development and the University's advisor for students wishing to apply to most of the nation's competitive scholarship programs that have an international focus, including the Fulbright, Boren and Gilman programs.

Learn more about the Boren Awards and WMU's international programs and services.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.