Two West Virginia University students will spend a semester abroad in Russia and one in Africa as a result of receiving the 2009-10 National Security Education Program David L. Boren Scholarship.

Tabitha Smith, a senior, double major in physics and sociology and anthropology, of Charles Town; Abigail Hohn, a sophomore, double major in Russian and English, of Morgantown; Emily Kayser, a senior, double major in economics and international studies, of Point Pleasant, are among 130 students nationwide to receive the Boren Scholarship.

The fact that three of the winners were chosen from WVU says a lot about our students. Nationwide the acceptance rate for this scholarship was only 14 percent. At WVU , it was over 60 percent. This is really big news,said Lisa DeFrank-Cole, director of WVU s ASPIRE office .

Boren scholars receive up to $8,000 to study abroad for one semester.

The Boren Scholarship program focuses on sending students to areas of the world that are critical to U.S. national security interests and underrepresented in study abroad. Scholars are required to study languages that are less commonly taught and complete a service requirement within three years after completion of the program. Under the service requirement, each scholar must work in a federal government position with national security responsibilities for at least one year.

When in Russia, Smith will perform astrophysical research with scientists at the Pushchino Radio Astronomy Observatory. She will also take intensive Russian language instruction and cultural immersion at St. Petersburg State University.

I would like to make myself useful to the United States as a diplomatic person with skills in the scientific community. Science policy in the legislature needs young, fresh ideas for how to progress with research and open up ties internationally for the support of brilliant scientists around the world,Smith said.This scholarship is a gateway award for opening up further opportunities.

Hohn will study Russian language, culture and literature while abroad in St. Petersburg.

I think it is necessary to immerse oneself in a language to truly learn it. Ive got the grammar down pretty well now, but my speaking is atrocious,Hohn said.I am grateful this scholarship has given me the opportunity to improve those skills.

In Uganda, Africa, Kayser will study how the area has grown and progressed economically as part of a development studies program.

The thought of being in Africa stirs my spirit and my soul, and to be honest, I can barely believe I am going to live in Uganda for a semester. It is quite an honor,she said.