UNC senior awarded 2013 Boren Scholarship to aid national security

Anastasia Bury
Anastasia Bury

UNC senior Anastasia Elise Bury of South Haven, Mich., has received a David L. Boren Scholarship through the National Security Education Program to benefit U.S. intelligence efforts. For 12 months, Bury will study abroad in Tajikistan where she will learn Tajik, a dialect of modern Persian that is unknown to many because it’s spoken in few parts of the world.

Bury, a double major in mathematics and astrophysics, has studied the Farsi dialect, which will give her the basis for learning Tajik. She also knows French, Spanish, German and American Sign Language. Bury said studying languages comes naturally to her because she uses a puzzle-like approach similar to a mathematical algorithm.

“I find my understanding of linguistics and cultural communication is enhanced by my urge to compare and analyze similarities and structures,” said Bury. “Farsi and Tajik are critical languages with mastery unrepresented by American citizens.”

The National Security Education Program granted 161 scholarships nationwide from a pool of 947 applicants. Only three students who were chosen applied to live in Tajikistan, which is bordered to the south by Afghanistan. All Boren Scholars live and study in areas of the world that are important to national security.

The scholarships, valued up to $20,000, are awarded to undergraduate students in exchange for their commitment to pursue work in the federal government after they graduate. The program encourages scholarship recipients to seek work with the departments of defense, homeland security and state or intelligence agencies. Bury hopes to become a language analyst for the National Security Agency.

“The Boren Scholarship represents a major federal initiative to build a pool of U.S. citizens with critical foreign language skills,” said Linda Dykstra, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships. “Anastasia’s training in mathematics, along with her impressive ability to master multiple foreign languages, made her an exceptional candidate for this award.”

While in Tajikistan, Bury also plans to study public health and emergency care to help underserved communities. In 2010, she lived in Vietnam and worked at the Viet-Duc Hospital in Hanoi and taught English, math and science in Da Nang. She is an active participant in UNC’s Buckley Public Service Scholars program.

Bury came to Carolina on a Morehead-Cain Scholarship and is enrolled in the Honors Carolina program. She is a member of Women in Physics and the Society of Physics Students. She plays on the women’s rugby football club team and was a nationally ranked luge athlete in high school. 

Background on the Boren Scholarship: http://www.borenawards.org/boren_scholarship