IT Major Looks to Expand Language Fluency Through Boren Scholarship

Colleen Locke | Mon Jul 8, 2019

Tiffany Tran ‘21 to Study in South Korea Fall and Spring Semesters

Tiffany Tran was born and raised in Boston, but she’s been exposed to quite a few languages in her young life. As an information technology major in the College of Science and Mathematics, she understands that computers work off the language of zeroes and ones. She speaks a little Vietnamese with her grandparents, she works at a Japanese retail store, and  —oh yeah — she taught herself the Korean alphabet.

“I tried learning other ones like Japanese and then I tried learning the Korean alphabet and it just made so much sense and it was easy,” Tran said. “I learned it in three days and that’s how I got committed to learning Korean.”

Tran is one of this year’s winners of the prestigious Boren Scholarship. Last year 207 students in the U.S. earned the scholarship, which pays tuition and expenses to undergraduate students willing to immerse themselves in less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests in exchange for working for the federal government for at least one year after graduation.

Tran just completed her second year at UMass Boston. Before Tran transferred from Bunker Hill Community College, a friend suggested she study abroad.

“When I transferred here, I went to the study abroad office and told them where I wanted to go and asked how I can I financially support myself there,” she said.

Tran was directed to Louise Penner, an associate professor of English and the director of the International and National Fellowships Office.

“She really helped me a lot with the process and the essay. I think her checking over my essay, making sure everything was good to submit, really helped me a lot in the process,” Tran said.

Tran will be in a Korean language program at Sogang University in South Korea, starting in the fall and continuing through the end of the next academic year. She’ll be back on the UMass Boston campus the following year to finish her degree.

“I’ve been studying Korean for three years now and I think it’s better to learn the language if I’m actually abroad rather than just here,” Tran said.

The next Boren Scholarship deadline is February 5, 2020. Applications will available online in August. Contact Louise Penner to get started with your application.

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