Student to Take Part in Chinese Language Immersion Program

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May 14, 2013

Student to Take Part in Chinese Language Immersion Program

Trinity University junior is recipient of prestigious Boren Scholarship

By Susie P. Gonzalez

Mei Butler Boren ScholarSAN ANTONIO - Trinity University junior Mei Butler plans to begin preparing for a career in the fields of environmental policy of sustainable development in China during the spring and summer of 2014 as a recipient of a prestigious Boren Scholarship.  

The native of Lawrence, Kan., a double major in economics and Chinese with a minor in international environmental studies, will participate in an intensive language program in Shanghai at Fudan University, followed by another language program in Harbin, located in northeast China, near Russia. The catch? She must sign a pledge to speak Mandarin most of time. "I can be kicked out of the program if I speak English too much," she said.

Boren Scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The scholarships are named for David L. Boren, now president of the University of Oklahoma, but who, as a U.S. senator, was the principal author of the legislation creating the National Security Education Program. In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients must agree to work in the federal government for at least one year after graduating. Applications were competitive, with nearly 950 undergraduates seeking 161 awards. Trinity currently has a Boren Fellow, Ben Anderson, who is studying in Turkey. 

Butler said the scholarship will allow her to be in China for seven months, splitting her time between two completely different regions and allowing her to gain a wider cultural view of the country. After she graduates from Trinity and completes her year of government service, Butler said she may pursue a graduate degree in public policy and management or another fellowship to conduct additional research in China.

This summer, she will be an intern in Bexar County's Economic Development Department. At Trinity, she has been a member of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and the Alpha Delta Lambda Honor Society. She also is an eco-representative to promote sustainable practices by Trinity students.

Political science professor Peter O'Brien said Butler is the "kind of global citizen and student" that Trinity seeks to enroll. "We are very proud of Mei," he said.

Susie P. Gonzalez is assistant director of University Communications and can be reached at