MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Ming Harris-Weidner ’22 has been named a Boren Scholar for summer 2020. A chemistry major from Missoula, Montana, Harris-Weidner is one of 217 undergraduate students to receive this year’s David L. Boren Scholarship, which is presented by the Institute of International Education on behalf of the national Security Education Program. Boren scholarships are designed to help students gain international and language education in areas of the world considered critical to U.S. interests.
In light of COVID-related travel restrictions, Harris-Weidner deferred her program dates to summer 2021. At that time, she will attend the intensive CET language program in Harbin, China, or, if travel to China is not allowed, in Taiwan. The delayed timing will actually work out well, says Harris-Weidner, “as it will allow me to sustain my intensive Chinese study after going on Midd’s study abroad program in China next spring.” This summer, Harris-Weidner has an internship in her hometown studying Lyme disease with a chemistry professor at the University of Montana.
Harris-Weidner says Boren is the only program she found that catered specifically to STEM majors; it funds a summer study option for those students whose science and math obligations make full-year language training difficult. “I chose the CET program in Harbin because it is very rigorous, features a Chinese roommate, is in a city not swamped with English speakers, and will allow me to live and study in a part of China that is new to me,” said Harris-Weidner, who has previously studied in Shanghai, Guilin, and Xian.
In the long term, Harris-Weidner says, “my plan is to use the expertise I develop in chemistry to work on climate change and to achieve fluency in Chinese to allow me to collaborate with Chinese scientists—in their language—on the issue.” She sees the Boren’s requirement to spend time in government service as an opportunity: “The EPA, for example, has five active programs that collaborate with China on the environment and climate change.”
While Harris-Weidner came to Middlebury in large part because of its Chinese and environmental programs, she was happy to discover the College also had a strong chemistry program. “I’ve been able to pursue climate change and language through the alternative path of a STEM career,” she says.
Since 1994, more than 6,000 students have received Boren awards. Recipients accept a service requirement to work for the federal government in the national security area.