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Stony Brook University Student Wins Boren Scholarship

Sidra mahfooz boren scholarship 2013 web

Stony Brook University Student Wins Boren Scholarship

Award funds language study abroad in areas critical to U.S. interests

STONY BROOK, N.Y., May 16, 2013 – Stony Brook University student Sidra Mahfooz will study Arabic at American University in Cairo, Egypt under a scholarship that enables undergraduates to study languages in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests.

Sidra mahfooz boren scholarship 2013 web
Sidra Mahfooz, Boren Scholarship recipient, will study Arabic in Cairo, Egypt.

Mahfooz, who is completing her senior year at Stony Brook with a double major in Political Science and Psychology, is the recipient of a Boren Scholarship, which is funded by the National Security Education Program and offers up to $20,000 for U.S undergraduates to acquire language skills abroad in certain regions seen as important for U.S. security. In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients agree to work in the U.S. government for at least one year. This year, 161 undergraduate Boren Scholarships were awarded from a total of 947 applications.

“I feel grateful and I thank everyone that helped me throughout the application process,” Mahfooz said. “I really look forward to studying Arabic in Egypt and I’m excited to continue my research and participate in some of the volunteer programs there.

“In this increasingly globalized world, it’s more important than ever before to understand diverse societies, laws, and cultures. Learning the language of a region is one of the first and most vital steps; it helps to remove the distance between two people. After law school, I hope to work for the federal government where I can use my language skills to promote greater understanding.”

“I congratulate Sidra on winning this prestigious scholarship, the latest in a series of honors she has achieved at Stony Brook,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr., M.D. “It is extremely rewarding to know that the knowledge and skills she has acquired and honed at Stony Brook have prepared her for this new opportunity on her path toward her career and life goals.”

Efie Spentzos, Boren Campus Advisor and Assistant Dean for International Academic Programs  at Stony Brook University, hopes that Sidra’s success in achieving the Boren Award encourages other Stony Brook students to recognize the wonderful opportunity the Award offers in coming years.  “At a time when countries and cultures are more interconnected than ever, the Boren Awards offer a unique opportunity to undergraduate and graduate students to become global citizens,” she said.

In addition to winning the prestigious Boren Award, Mahfooz also won first prize in the annual Benjamin and David Scharps Legal Essay Competition, which is open to all SUNY juniors and seniors. She was selected to receive a $1,500 scholarship for her essay, “Concussions and Violence in Athletics: A Heightened Duty of Care for Student Athletes in the Context of Intercollegiate Athletics.”

The competition required students to write an essay on a legal topic – this year’s topic was Concussions and Violence in Athletics – and submit their paper for review. A selection committee then reads all submissions and selects first- and second-place winners. To win, students must identify the legal issues and defend their position in a scholarly manner in a 2,000-word essay that is carefully reasoned, well researched, authoritatively documented and precisely written.

“I thought this essay contest was a great opportunity to research legal standards and practice formulating a persuasive argument,” said Mahfooz. “It was really quite interesting to analyze in depth a number of the cases pertaining to torts law. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys writing or wants to pursue a law career; I found it to be a great experience.”

Mahfooz also received an Undergraduate Recognition award for Leadership on April 22, which is given to students who have assumed leadership roles in a variety of University organizations, and who have significant accomplishments above and beyond the requirements of their academic degree programs. She also won the Alumni Association’s Joseph N. Campolo Award for Legal Studies, a $750 award given to a student preparing to enter the practice of law who has demonstrated a commitment to public service.

Mahfooz was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, has been a member of Older Siblings on Campus, Speech and Debate Society, and Habitat for Humanity. She was the former president of the Pre-Law Society, co-founder and captain of the Mock Trial Club, and an intern at the U.S. Federal Bankruptcy Court. She has also served as a teaching assistant for the departments of Political Science and Psychology. After studying Arabic and expanding upon her senior honors thesis research on the fully funded Boren Scholarship in Egypt, she plans to attain her JD and pursue a career in the field of law.

About the Boren Scholarship

David L. Boren Scholarship is sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills.  Boren Awards provide U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of our nation.  In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients agree to work in the federal government for a period of at least one year.
This year, the Institute of International Education, which administers the awards on behalf of NSEP, received 947 undergraduate students applied for the Boren Scholarship and 161 were awarded. a historically high number of applications for the undergraduate Boren Scholarship. This year, Boren Scholars and Fellows will live in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and Mandarin, Russian, Swahili, and Portuguese.  

Since 1994, over 5,000 students have received Boren Awards. Boren Scholars and Fellows represent a vital pool of highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal national security arena, and program alumni are contributing to the critical missions of agencies throughout the federal government.  An independent not-for-profit founded in 1919, IIE is among the world’s largest and most experienced international education and exchange organizations.  Undergraduate and graduate students interested in applying for the Boren Awards should visit


© Stony Brook University 2012

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