Two Virginia Commonwealth University students, including one from Midlothian, have been awarded the National Security Education Program David L. Boren Scholarship.
The scholarships are funded by the Department of Defense and provide up to $20,000 of support for students. The scholarships are intended for U.S. undergraduates who will pursue the study of languages and cultures that are deemed underrepresented in study abroad and critical to U.S. national security.
The VCU winners are Michael "Ben" Sims, a senior from Midlothian majoring in history and religious studies, and Alexander Phelps, a sophomore from Williamsburg majoring in international studies with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies.
Sims will study intermediate and advanced Turkish language, Turkish culture and Middle Eastern history in the Turkish cities of Ankara and Istanbul from July to January. Sims plans to pursue a doctorate in Ottoman history after his studies abroad and ultimately to work for the U.S. government.
Phelps will study intermediate and advanced Arabic, Syrian culture and Middle Eastern history in Damascus, Syria, from September through June. Phelps plans to continue his studies in Arabic language and Middle Eastern studies when he returns to VCU in the fall of 2009.
Phelps would like to use his language skills and knowledge of the Middle East to work for the U.S. government in the future.