Margaret Cooper, a JD candidate at the University of Iowa College of Law, earned a 2021 David L. Boren Fellowship and will spend next year studying Arabic in Jordan.
The Boren Fellowships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. graduate and undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.
Hometown: Iowa Falls, IA
Degree: University of Iowa College of Law, J.D. candidate 2023, Creighton University, B.A. 2017 Political Science and Theology
Were there experiences at the UI that inspired your decision to pursue a Boren?
Iowa gave me the unique opportunity to pursue Arabic language courses in tandem with my law studies. Normally, this would be quite difficult to accommodate, but both the law school and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences worked together seamlessly to enable me to take these extra classes to prepare myself not only for the Boren but also for my career path aspirations.
What drew you to your language studies?
Initially, I took high school Spanish as a compulsory foreign language course but stuck with it because it came naturally. Having hosted multiple foreign exchange students in high school, I was invited to spend the summer before college with their families in Germany, which encouraged me to pursue German language studies during my undergraduate work. When I began law school I wanted to continue learning languages but decided to try something more critical to practicing international law, which led me to take Arabic in addition to my regular courses.
"Iowa gave me the unique opportunity to pursue Arabic language courses in tandem with my law studies. Normally, this would be quite difficult to accommodate, but both the law school and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences worked together seamlessly to enable me to take these extra classes to prepare myself not only for the Boren but also for my career path aspirations. "
How do you foresee this influencing your future career?
The Boren enables me to immediately step into federal service upon completing my degree. I have long desired a career in federal service and the Boren gives me a platform to use both my degrees and language skills to work in International Humanitarian Law.
What excites you most about spending a year in your host country?
I am most excited to immerse myself in the culture and develop a genuine understanding of the complex legal structure in Jordan.
Do you have professors or mentors you'd like to thank?
I am very grateful to Dean Emily Hughes, Dean Carin Crain, Professor Don Ford, Professor John Reitz, Professor Asma ben Romdhane, Karen Wachsmuth, and Lee Seedorff for their continued mentorship and assistance throughout the application process and planning involved in pursuing the Boren Award.
Students are encouraged to begin their funding searches and applications at least six months to one year in advance. Schedule an advising appointment with Karen Wachsmuth to discuss your interest in an international fellowship or begin an application (as a UI undergraduate student, graduate student, or alumna/us).