Three VCU students win National Security Education Program’s Boren Scholarship

Lise Mychaleckyj
Biomedical engineering major Lise Mychaleckyj will use her Boren Scholarship to study Croatian at the University of Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia. (Courtesy photo.)

By Jeff Wing
National Scholarship Office


Three Virginia Commonwealth University students have been selected for Boren Scholarships for the 2020-21 academic year.

Benjamin Madnick, a senior majoring in homeland security and emergency preparedness and criminal justice in the L. Douglas Wilder School for Government and Public Affairs; Lise Mychaleckyj, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering; and Kelly Nguyen, a junior majoring in political science in the College of Humanities and Sciences and in international studies within the School of World Studies, were named Boren Scholars.

The Boren Scholarship provides funding for undergraduate and graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests that are underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. The addition of Madnick, Nguyen and Mychaleckyj brings the number of VCU Boren Scholars to 21.

Mychaleckyj, a member of the VCU Honors College, will use her Boren Scholarship to study Croatian at the University of Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia. She hopes the experience will support her on a path toward studying sustainable design in graduate school and later working for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Mychaleckyj previously studied abroad during summer 2019, doing biomedical research in Singapore through the Singapore International Pre-Graduate Award. Mychaleckyj grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Madnick, who plans to pursue graduate studies in global affairs and eventually to join the U.S. Foreign Service, will be studying Urdu through Boren’s South Asian Flagship Languages Initiative. The program comprises two parts: domestic intensive language study followed by a semester of study abroad. Madnick will study at the University of Wisconsin, followed by a semester in Lucknow, India, where he will take courses in Urdu, Indian culture and international studies. He grew up in Burke, Virginia.

Nguyen, a member of the VCU Honors College as well as VCU Globe, also will participate in Boren’s African Flagship Language Initiative. Nguyen will study Portuguese at the University of Florida and then in Maputo, Mozambique, where she will take language courses as well as courses related to the culture and traditions of Mozambique. After graduation, she plans to join the Peace Corps and then pursue a law degree to serve as an immigration lawyer. Nguyen grew up in Springfield, Virginia.

A fourth VCU student, senior Madeline Doane, was named an alternate to study Portuguese in Brazil.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the students’ original plans have been altered. The host institutions will provide intensive language study virtually, and study abroad has been delayed to begin no sooner than Jan. 1, 2021.

Doane, Madnick, Mychaleckyj and Nguyen worked with VCU’s National Scholarship Office to apply for the Boren Scholarship. The office supports VCU alumni, graduate students and undergraduates who wish to compete for prestigious national and international scholarships. Interested students and alumni can contact the office at or (804) 828-6868