Cody White’s freshman year at West Virginia University included a Russian language course in each semester. The engineering major from Charleston had visited the country two summers ago and hoped to return someday.

White’s “someday” has turned into “soon” with the awarding of a National Security Education Program’s David L. Boren Scholarship.

“I didn’t expect to get the scholarship,” White said. “I applied but I knew I had three more years to try for it. Once I found out I got it, I started to get excited.”

Click here to read Cody’s blog of his time in Russia. And go here to view his “Touch Russia” video, which has been nominated for a Vimeo award.

White has plenty to be excited about. Along with the scholarship, he’s leaving this month for a two-month trip to China as part of a WVU nanotechnology research initiative.

The two trips will make for a hectic summer for White, who leaves for Russia in August, about a month after he returns from China. He’ll spend a year there, studying at Moscow State University and spending a few weeks around Christmas at an internship in Astrakhan.

But White’s not complaining. The China tour will serve as a dry run for his trip to Russia, which isn’t completely uncharted territory. During his previous visit, he stayed with a former Capital High School classmate who had been an exchange student. This time he’ll be involved in academic pursuits along with soaking in the culture and sights.

“I’m looking forward to being immersed in the language – getting a better understanding of it and gaining some fluency,” he said. “It’ll be another adventure. The culture is different; I’ll learn a whole lot while I’m there and meet a lot of different people. I’ll explore Europe if I have time.”

Click to hear WVUToday radio spot on Cody White and other WVU top scholarship recipients.

White is WVU’s first freshman Boren winner and its fifth in the last three years. He is one of 151 Boren award winners nationally from 940 applicants.

“This is just wonderful,” said Lisa DeFrank-Cole, director of the ASPIRE office. “It’s especially remarkable that Cody won this award as a freshman. He is an incredible student and we look forward to seeing all that he will accomplish in his upcoming years at WVU.”

DeFrank-Cole said White researched and applied for the Boren scholarship quickly after his arrival on campus. His diligence and the fact he’d spent time in Russia and had a letter of reference from one of his future colleagues in Astrakhan helped him earn the award.

The Boren Scholarship program, which includes awards up to $20,000 for study, 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 less commonly taught languages, 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.

DeFrank-Cole also considers the award a win for WVU.

“We have great students applying and clearly the Boren Scholarship committee has recognized that,” she said.



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