Cali VanCleve ’26 Receives Competitive Boren Scholarship to Study Russian Abroad

image of Cali VanCleve, outside on Rhodes College campus

Cali VanCleve, a Rhodes College sophomore majoring in international studies and Russian, has been selected to receive the Boren Scholarship, which funds study abroad with the goal of immersing students in a language critical to U.S. national security interests. In the summer and fall of 2024, she will study Russian in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, as part of the School of Russian and Asian Studies’ Russian as a Second Language Program.

The Boren Awards, including scholarships and fellowships, is an initiative of the Defense Language and National Security Education Office. The Boren Scholarships program employs a broad definition of national security that includes global challenges such as food security, public health and disease, cybersecurity, migration, and natural disaster response.

In exchange for funding, Boren Scholars commit to working in the U.S. federal government for at least one year after graduation.

“A career in public service serves as an avenue to continue advocacy and policy work uplifting immigrant and refugee communities,” said VanCleve. “Because of Rhodes’ liberal arts education, I’ve also come to find how crucial it is to continue this work—establishing stronger migrant presence and voices—globally. In order to cultivate a world where all can thrive, we must persist at driving attention on the systematic issues within our greater international system.”

VanCleve is from Nashville, TN, and her experience in civic engagement involves making positive changes for immigrant and refugee communities across Tennessee. Through the Bonner Scholars program, she works as a community organizer serving on the Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope’s (MICAH) Immigration and Inclusivity team.

On campus, VanCleve is active with Amnesty International, Rhodes Student Government, the Bonner Leadership Team, and Rhodes Ambassadors. She also is a recipient of The Centre for Asian and Pacific Islanders (CAPI) Policy Initiative Fellowship based in Minnesota.

Students interested in learning more about the Boren Scholarship application process and other nationally competitive postgraduate scholarships should contact Dr. Esen Kirdis or Dr. Jason Richards, co-directors of post-graduate fellowships at Rhodes College.