Stephan van der Mersch Wins David L. Boren Scholarship
Stephan van der Mersch, a sophomore diplomacy and world affairs major at Occidental College, has been awarded a David L. Boren Scholarship to study Chinese language and culture at Nanjing University.
Van der Mersch, a 2002 Boulder High School graduate, will spend the fall semester in China. He joins Occidental sophomore Elisabeth de Gramont of Santa Barbara (who will also study in China) as one of 181 Boren scholars chosen this year from a national pool of 860 applicants. Occidental students have received nine Boren Scholarships since 2000. The award, made by the Virginia-based National Security Education Program, will allot van der Mersch and de Gramont between $4,000 and $10,000 apiece to pursue their studies.
Van der Mersch, who wants to forge a career in international relations, called the chance to study in China a “dream come true.”
“No other country in the world presents such challenges and opportunities to the United States,” he said. “Will China ever become a democracy? Will it continue its astronomic economic growth or are the next 50 years of Chinese economic development going to be rockier than the last 20? As China ascends the global power ladder, how will it influence regional and global politics? My experience should be mind-expanding, to say the least.”
The David L. Boren Scholarship is named after the former Oklahoma senator whose David L. Boren Act of 1991 established the NSEP. The legislation created a trust fund to provide for national investment in higher education in international studies and to build a base of expertise that would be available to the government.
Recipients of NSEP scholarships and fellowships incur an obligation to work either in higher education or for an office or agency of the federal government involved in national security affairs.