University of Iowa

Eli Bratsch-Prince earns prestigious Boren scholarship to Jordan

May 8th, 2019

Eli Bratsch-Prince, who will receive a BA in political science from the University of Iowa this May, earned a 2019 David L. Boren Scholarship. A native of Ames, Iowa, Bratsch-Prince will spend next year studying Arabic in Jordan. 

The Boren Scholarship, an initiative sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), is a national, competitive program that provides U.S. undergraduate students funding opportunities to study languages in world regions deemed critical to U.S. national security. In exchange for funding, Boren Scholars commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.

Eli Bratsch-Prince

Degree: BA Political Science, Arabic minor
Hometown: Ames, Iowa

What led you to this field of study?

I started studying Arabic in high school for my foreign language requirement. I did not take it very seriously until I got to the University of Iowa and took an Arabic class with Professor Yasmine Ramadan. Her class was challenging yet rewarding and I found myself studying Arabic for hours most evenings. Professor Ramadan also encouraged me to study Arabic intensively in Morocco after my freshman year, and that experience sparked my interest in the Arab world and its various cultures.

I also became interested in U.S. politics as a high school senior, when I took the required senior government course. I decided to pursue a political science major at Iowa and, after taking a number of comparative politics courses with Ambassador Ronald McMullen, I took a keen interest in how a country’s cultures, religions, and history play a role in its politics.

 What excites you the most about spending a year in Jordan?

What excited me most about spending a year in Jordan is living with a Jordanian host family. When I spent last summer in Jordan on the Critical Language Studies Program, I lived with a host family and learned a lot about Jordanian daily life and dialectal differences. These are things you cannot learn in a classroom.

 I am also excited to dedicate a full academic year to studying the Arabic language. I have been studying Arabic for almost eight years and I still have only scratched the surface of the language. It will be awesome to dive into the language for a full nine months.

Were there experiences at the UI that inspired your decision to pursue a Boren? 

Yes, many! Winning the Critical Language Scholarship in 2018 was a major step because it boosted my confidence in applying for competitive national scholarships. Every Arabic class I took at the UI inspired me as well because I became more intrigued by the language the more I learned. Also, I have made friends with many Arab students at the University of Iowa who have encouraged me to keep studying Arabic and to travel to the Arab world.

 Do you have professors or mentors you'd like to thank? 

I want to firstly thank my Boren application advisor Dr. Karen Wachsmuth for her help and grammatical prowess. I want to thank Professor William Reisinger for helping me craft my Boren essays. I want to thank Ambassador McMullen for his challenging courses and sage advice, both of which made me become a more confident student and award applicant. I also want to thank Professor Yasmine Ramadan for inspiring me to study Arabic as a college freshman and encouraging me to continue studying and applying for awards. Perhaps someday I will come back to the UI to teach Arabic alongside her. Both Professor Ramadan and Ambassador McMullen deserve an extra shout out, as they each wrote me upwards of 20 letters of recommendation over the past year!

Explore the many funding opportunities open to UI students and alumni

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).

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