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Three UCF students recently received Boren Fellowships, which are for students interested in pursuing a career in U.S. national security. One of this year’s recipients is Rachael Rothstein-Safra ’17, a recent history alumna and staff member for the UCF Community Veterans History Project.

Boren Fellowships provide funding up to $24,000 for immersive study of the language and culture of countries deemed critical to U.S. national security. In return, Fellows agree to complete a service requirement with the federal government. An initiative of the National Security Education Program, Boren Awards funds a broad spectrum of study that encompasses global challenges such as environmental and sustainability measures, economic practices, and even historical-culture analysis.


A Historical Approach to Political Rhetoric in Beijing

Rothstein-Safra used her undergraduate thesis as a jumping-off point for her Boren application. Her thesis was on medieval Chinese literature, and she is looking forward to honing her research skills and studying intensive Mandarin for a year at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

“As a historian, it is essential to understand the nuances of a language … so that you may then understand the society,” Rothstein-Safra says.

History is not a common field of study for a Boren recipient, but Rothstein-Safra explains the ties between historical analysis and national security by stressing the importance of studying historic political trends. “A lot of the current political rhetoric of the Communist Party of China draws on historical Chinese ideas and phrases,” Rothstein-Safra says. “It is key to understanding how they portray themselves to their people and the global arena.”

A self-described nontraditional student, Rothstein-Safra took a different path to UCF. Dropping out of high school in 11th grade, she attended Seminole State College before transferring to UCF. At Tsinghua University, she will design her own program of study, and credits working with the Burnett Honors College, the Office of Prestigious Awards, and her mentors in the history department for helping her to become a Boren Fellow.

Upon returning next summer, Rothstein-Safra plans to pursue a master’s degree in history at UCF.


Read more about the other recipients on UCF Today.