International affairs major earns top scholarship for study abroad experience

Sophomore, Brendan Henry, will travel to Israel to study Arabic and Middle Eastern culture

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5/28/2019 | By: Lisa McDonald |

Brendan Henry is going places. The first stop for this international affairs major and Arabic language and Middle Eastern cultures minor is an internship in Las Vegas with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. He will then travel in the fall to complete his junior year studying abroad in Yafit, Israel. With only two years of college under his belt at the University of Nevada, Reno, Henry is smart and driven, and not intending to waste any moment to gain professional and cultural experience to help him succeed well after graduation.

This summer, Henry will locate to Las Vegas to complete an internship with Senator Masto. His work will include talking with constituents to understand their concerns and expressing the views of the Senator. He will also earn class credit while completing various tasks for the Senator.

In October, Henry will travel to Israel to begin his study abroad experience. He earned approximately $30,000 in scholarships to help cover all of his travel and living expenses while out of the country. The largest and most prestigious scholarship Henry earned was the Boren Award Scholarship. According to their website, this award promotes long-term linguistic and cultural immersion while focusing on geographic areas, languages and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security.

Once graduated, Henry owes one year of service to the government in exchange for this award. Henry said his dream job is to work for the government, preferably in the State Department, so he is excited to get his foot in the door during this one-year service commitment. In addition, the government sets aside specific jobs for Boren scholars.

Obtaining the scholarship was a rigorous task. Henry was assigned a campus mentor, Erin Edgington, assistant director of the honors program, to help him apply. The application process included written essays, interviews with campus faculty and an endorsement from the University. Very few students from all over the country are selected each year.

Henry is grateful for these upcoming opportunities. "I really love the Middle East and the culture and I want to work internationally, so I want to be well versed," he said.

He plans to graduate in 2021 and after completing his year of service work for the government, intends to apply to graduate programs to earn his Master's degree in Arabic. Henry was concerned that his academic and professional experience thus far wouldn't be adequate to helping him reach his government career goals and earning him a spot in a graduate program. Although his seemingly never-ending drive to succeed will probably have him land a permanent job before he completes his degree.

As a first generation, minority student, Henry should be quick to take credit for his own success, yet he is humble and appreciative for the support around him. "God is good. He has given me everything," Henry said. He also is grateful for the University to offer so much support and scholarship funding. As a member of the Black Student Organization on campus, a member of the College of Liberal Arts student advisory board and a TRIO member, Henry said the resources available to him on this campus have helped him with everything he needs.

"In 10 years, I think UNR will be known as one of the top schools to go to," Henry said. He truly believes this campus is underrated, but what he doesn't realize is, it's the students like him that underrate their own achievements and make this University what it is.

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