Five Stanford students receive 2020 Boren Awards

Two Stanford graduate students and three undergraduates are among the recipients of the awards, which support overseas studies in regions critical to United States interests.

Five Stanford students are among the recipients of the 2020 Boren Awards. Two are graduate students who will receive David L. Boren Fellowships and three are undergraduates who will receive David L. Boren Scholarships.

Presented each year by the Institute of International Education (IIE) on behalf of the National Security Education Program (NSEP), these awards provide students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of the United States. This year’s fellows and scholars will study 46 languages in 44 countries. In exchange for funding, Boren Award recipients agree to work in the federal government for at least one year.

Since 1994, more than 7,000 students have received Boren Awards, which are named for David L. Boren, the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program.

Stanford’s 2020 Boren Fellows and Scholars

Stu McLaughlin (Image credit: Courtesy Bechtel International Center)

Stu McLaughlin is pursuing a master’s degree in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies in the School of Humanities and Sciences. As a Boren Fellow, he will pursue an intensive, advanced Kazakh language program at Nazarbayev University in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. There, he will take advanced courses in classic and contemporary Kazakh literature and Kazakh language. Outside of the classroom, he plans to volunteer at the university’s writing center to assist with poetry projects, as well as organize and participate in outreach events with the American Corner network in Kazakhstan, a program that provides access to English language and educational resources.

“The Boren Fellowship represents an indelible culmination of all my academic and professional endeavors to date,” McLaughlin said. “The Kazakh identity is becoming something decidedly and poignantly powerful in the modern global stage. I am excited and determined to contribute to the fundamental modalities of mutual sociocultural and diplomatic interaction between Kazakhstan and the United States while upholding the values espoused by the community here at Stanford.”

McLaughlin is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University with bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and Russian, and a minor in Arabic.

Nicolo Zulaybar (Image credit: Courtesy Bechtel International Center)

Nicolo Zulaybar is pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering. As a Boren Fellow, he will study Mandarin at the Inter-University Program for Chinese Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Through the fellowship, he intends to further improve his language skills by auditing Chinese lectures and getting involved with student organizations.

“It’s an honor and privilege to receive this Boren Fellowship,” Zulaybar said. “In this time of global challenges, it feels all the more urgent that people get involved with government to solve the problems facing their communities. I appreciate how Boren both supports my placement in federal service and prepares me for my role with cultural skills I can use to problem-solve with America’s international partners. It complements my technical education in this way.”

Zulaybar is from Los Angeles. He graduated from Stanford in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. As an undergraduate, he was a research associate in Assistant Professor of Chemistry Yan Xia’s Polymer Chemistry Lab, as well as a member of the Alpha Chi Sigma professional fraternity.

Hannah Kohatsu, ’22 (Image credit: Courtesy Bechtel International Center)

Hannah Kohatsu is a sophomore majoring in international relations in the School of Humanities and Sciences. As a recipient of the Boren Scholarship, she will take Mandarin language courses and study international relations topics at National Taiwan University.

“I am honored to be a Boren Scholarship recipient and thrilled that I will get to spend up to six months totally immersed in Chinese language and area studies,” Kohatsu said. “Ultimately I hope to serve in crisis mediation or international conflict stabilization fields, and I’m so grateful to have this opportunity to expand my sense of cultural empathy and explore what it means to serve the global community.”

Kohatsu is from Asheville, North Carolina. She is a member of XA Christian Fellowship and the Stanford Women’s Rugby team, and has worked as a research assistant for CISAC’s Mapping Militants Project.

Jaymi McNabb, ’22 (Image credit: Courtesy Bechtel International Center)

Jaymi McNabb is a sophomore from Portland, Oregon. At Stanford, she is double majoring in East Asian studies and international relations in the School of Humanities and Sciences. With support from the Boren Scholarship, she will study Mandarin at the International Chinese Language Program at National Taiwan University in Taiwan.

Maxwell Meyer, ’22 (Image credit: Courtesy Bechtel International Center)

Maxwell Meyer is a sophomore studying geophysics. As a Boren Scholar, he will study Arabic language, literature and Arab/Muslim history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. While there, he intends to pursue coursework in natural and social science at the Rothberg International School.

“I’ve loved Middle East politics for a long time, and the Boren award will be an excellent opportunity to work on my language skills through immersion and learn more about the cultures, politics and conflicts in Israel and the greater Middle East,” he said.

Meyer is from Iowa City, Iowa. He serves as executive editor of The Stanford Review.

For more information about the Boren Fellowship and Boren Scholarship visit Stanford’s Bechtel International Center. Stanford students interested in overseas scholarships and Stanford faculty interested in nominating students for such awards should contact Diane Murk, manager of the Overseas Resource Center at, of the Bechtel International Center.