Rachel Gallina is one of two undergraduates students from Boise State University to have received the Boren Scholarship. The Boren Scholarship, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, is designed to fund opportunities for undergraduates to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests. This is the first time Boise State students have been awarded the highly competitive scholarship.
Gallina is a sophomore pursuing her bachelor of arts in economics with a minor in political science and a certificate in Arabic. She was offered a year-long scholarship to study Arabic at the University of Haifa in Israel for this coming fall semester.
“The University of Haifa is the most ethnically diverse campus in Israel, perhaps the whole of the middle east, which is a strong pull for me,” Gallina explained. “The history of what I’ve done has revolved around ethnic tension. I want to work on peace-building through economics.” Gallina will graduate in spring 2018 with a bachelor or arts in economics, a minor in political science and a certificate in Arabic.
A component of the scholarship includes working for the federal government in the national security arena – the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, for instance, or within the intelligence community – within three years of graduation. After graduation, Gallina hopes to work with the Office of Transition Initiatives, a department that supports U.S. foreign policy objectives by helping local partners advance peace and democracy. Specifically, Gallina would like to work with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on economically empowering women in war-torn countries. Her interest in working with women in predominantly Muslim countries stems in part from her personal history.
“I was born and raised in Kosovo,” Gallina explained. “It’s a Muslim country, but they don’t speak Arabic, they speak Albanian. Still, it was definitely around me in my childhood and I was fascinated by it, and that led me to study Arabic in Jordan after high school. I am eager to immerse myself in speaking the language but my long-term goal is to be able to listen. I think if you want to be an instigator of change, you have to start by listening. With the acquisition of Arabic comes the ability to really hear the heart of a culture and hear the people who can’t advocate for themselves. A lot of people aren’t given the opportunity to have a voice or have their voice heard. Eventually, I’d like to facilitate change in postwar countries that allows women to rise out of poverty and extreme conflict.”