UM Student Wins Boren Scholarship to Kyrgyzstan

May 03, 2017

Kaitlyn AndersonMISSOULA – Kaitlyn Anderson, a sophomore at the University of Montana, has won a Boren Scholarship, which provides $20,000 to study for a year in Kyrgyzstan.

Anderson is majoring in resource conservation and minoring in wildlife biology. She is a 2015 graduate of Kalispell’s Glacier High School and is the daughter of Sheri and Chuck Anderson, also of Kalispell.

Boren Scholars represent a vital pool of highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal national security arena, said Marja Unkuri-Chaudhry, UM’s director of education abroad and partnerships.

The Boren scholarship will fund Anderson’s travels to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, for the upcoming academic year. For her first semester, Anderson will further her Russian language skills and learn more about the culture and history of Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia.

The travel study program also offers students an opportunity to visit Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on a two-week tour. Anderson will visit major sites, meet and spend time with locals, and participate in hands-on activities. During the second semester, she will intern with a conservation organization that works to end illegal wildlife trade in Kyrgyzstan.

Anderson said she became interested in the use and trade of world resources after reading “The Tiger” by John Vaillant as part of UM’s First-Year Reading Experience.

“After hours of research, I realized this practice not only threatens wildlife but also human beings,” Anderson said. “Many terrorist groups use wildlife trafficking to fund their activities and bribe supporters.”

The Boren Scholarship supports Anderson’s endeavors to study a less commonly taught language in a region critical to U.S. interests. The scholarship is an initiative of the National Security Education Program and focuses on areas typically underrepresented by study abroad programs including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East.

In exchange for funding, Boren Scholars commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation. Anderson plans to work for the International Affairs Department of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for her year of post-scholarship service.

Anderson also will receive a scholarship from UM’s Franke Global Leadership Initiative to help with flight and homestay expenses. When she returns from Kyrgyzstan, she will use her experiences to collaborate with other GLI students to create a service project focused on resource use and sustainability.

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Contact: Marja Unkuri-Chaudhry, director of education abroad and partnerships, UM Global Engagement Office, 406-243-2296,; Kaitlyn Anderson, UM student,