October 26, 2022

CHaSS Student Spotlight: Boren Scholar Alex Lambert

Student spotlight: Boren Scholar Alex LambertBoren Scholar Alex Lambert stands in front of the Azerbaijan University of Languages where he is currently participating in an intensive program to learn Turkish.

By Andrea DeHaan, CHaSS Communications Editor

Junior Alex Lambert is the kind of person who seeks out opportunities, and he is more than happy to feast on the “smorgasbord of opportunity” that comes with being a Utah State University student.

“I’ve always considered the purpose of my education to be a personal refiner,” Lambert says, “a development of intellect, understanding, and social skill, that should hopefully make me a better human being and global citizen — rather than a direct pathway to any particular field or specific job.”

To further refine his skills as a global citizen and a global communication major, Lambert is currently a Boren scholar studying Turkish and Azerbaijani in Baku.

The Boren Awards are a prestigious undergraduate and graduate scholarship program that provides experiential opportunities to learn a critical language, with an eye toward national security and a preference for those interested in careers with the federal government. The program, which is run through the U.S. Department of Defense, covers up to $30,000 in associated expenses.

Lambert applied through the USU Office of Global Engagement, saying they “offered great advice for crafting essays, which is a major part of the Boren application.”

“We are so excited for Alex to be abroad on a Boren program!said Katie Davidson, senior study abroad advisor and former primary advisor for the USU Boren program.

“The Office of Global Engagement is happy to assist students throughout the application process, with answering questions and helping with essay editing and budget creation.”

After spending the summer in an 8-week intensive beginner Turkish course offered through the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Lambert arrived in Azerbaijan in early September and is spending the second half of his scholarship on a 15-week intermediate Turkish study program, supplemented by the study of Azerbaijani. The intensive approach means that Lambert lives with a host family and spends four hours a week with an Azerbaijani university student.

“Together we visit different places in the city with cultural significance — whether that be a museum, a theatre, a market, a park, or just hanging out with his friends to get sushi or kebab,” Lambert explains. “These outings have been beneficial to me as a time to practice the language skills that I’m learning in class in real-world situations, and I’ve developed great friendships from them as well.” 

While Lambert is not yet certain how he’ll employ his newly-acquired language skills, his advisor, Jason Gilmore, associate professor of communication studies, says that Lambert “embodies everything that we teach in the Global Communication major —intercultural respect, sensitivity to cultural differences in communication styles, and a true desire to use his training to bridge cultural divides and seek peaceful solutions to complex intercultural encounters.”

For his part, Lambert is grateful for “the academic and emotional rigor” of the Boren program, which has allowed him “to implement new habits and form new ways of thinking that can be carried over and applied in a number of different areas.”

“It has forced me to dig deeply and actively use my brain — as all new languages do — and I think that’s a very valuable and transferable skill,” Lambert adds. “Plus, professionally, it never hurts to have the connections and network that a program like Boren offers.” 

Study Abroad Advisor Kristen Casserilla currently oversees the Boren Awards program at USU. Students wishing to explore opportunities are advised to schedule an appointment with her. Upcoming application deadlines for undergraduate and graduate students are in January 2023.

Lambert is due to resume his coursework at USU this spring. “I’ve met some really wonderful people here, from my classmates, to my instructors, to my host family, and my friends. The friendships I’ve made here have been the most meaningful aspect of the program for me.”


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