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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

UNC: Graduate Student Receives Boren Fellowship

Ms. Nikki Behnke, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, is one of 106 students nationwide to receive a David L. Boren Fellowship for 2019.

Boren Scholarships and Fellowships are sponsored by the National Security Education Program. The awards provide undergraduate and graduate students in the United States with resources to acquire language skills in countries critical to United States security.

This year, the fellowship will fund Ms. Behnke’s study of Modern Standard Arabic at the Qasid Arabic Institute in Amman, Jordan.

“I’m thrilled to be continuing my Arabic language studies as a Boren Fellow,” said Ms. Behnke. “Jordan is the ideal place to take this next step in my career in water, sanitation and international security.”

Ms. Behnke has been interested in water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) issues since high school. She received a bachelor’s degree from UNC in 2016, with majors in peace, war and defense as well as political science and a minor in environmental studies. She became interested in the Middle East in particular through her undergraduate studies, finding that the region was a place where research in WaSH and security intertwined.

“When I decided to return to UNC for graduate school, I shifted my focus to environmental health services for displaced populations, because they often are left out of international development frameworks and policies,” said Ms. Behnke. “More than 68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced, but due to their unclear and often stigmatized social and political status, they are frequently neglected and can easily fall through the cracks.”

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