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2017 Boren Fellow & Graduate student, American University
Majors in Spanish and Education
Catherine received the Boren Fellowship in 2017 to study Azerbaijani in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Boren Fellowship is a highly competitive graduate award that requires recipients to work in fields of language study that are critical to U.S. national security. It also requires the completion of a service component with the Federal government.
What have you been up to since Knox?
After graduating, I served in the Peace Corps in Armenia as a Teaching English as a Foreign Language volunteer and substitute taught for a year in Minnesota. I then started my graduate program at American University in comparative and regional studies.
Tell us about your experience in Azerbaijan.
I helped with the development of a social initiative project and worked to report on the workings of the organizations within Azerbaijan's civil society. Both these experiences gave me a deeper understanding of how effectively and ineffectively the government structure works for civil society. I also found a family that took me in as their own. I visited them every week to not only practice Azerbaijani but to learn more about their culture.
What are some meaningful experiences you had while at Knox?
When I was having a tough first year at Knox, I ended up doing an independent study with Dean Bailey. Working with him eventually led me to the Barcelona study abroad program, which was the reason I came to Knox in the first place. It was, unquestionably, the spark for the trajectory that I have made so far. The experience I had there was unforgettable thanks to Professor Robin Ragan and Professor Tony Prado, who made sure that we absorbed all parts of the Spanish culture by engaging ourselves in it. It made me want to learn more languages so I could understand more people and connect with them on a level that I could not before. Knox definitely paved the way for me to do Peace Corps and then continue on to complete the Boren Fellowship.