Three VCU students win National Security Education Program’s Boren Scholarship

Portraits of three V C U students.
From left: Lise Mychaleckyj, Benjamin Madnick and Kelly Nguyen. (Courtesy photos)

Three Virginia Commonwealth University students have been selected for Boren Scholarships for the 2020-21 academic year.

Benjamin Madnick, a senior majoring in homeland security and emergency preparedness and criminal justice in the L. Douglas Wilder School for Government and Public Affairs; Lise Mychaleckyj, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering; and Kelly Nguyen, a junior majoring in political science in the College of Humanities and Sciences and in international studies within the School of World Studies, were named Boren Scholars.

The Boren Scholarship provides funding for undergraduate and graduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests that are underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. The addition of Madnick, Nguyen and Mychaleckyj brings the number of VCU Boren Scholars to 21.

Madnick, who plans to pursue graduate studies in global affairs and eventually to join the U.S. Foreign Service, will be studying Urdu through Boren’s South Asian Flagship Languages Initiative. The program comprises two parts: domestic intensive language study followed by a semester of study abroad. Madnick will study at the University of Wisconsin, followed by a semester in Lucknow, India, where he will take courses in Urdu, Indian culture and international studies. He grew up in Burke, Virginia.

Mychaleckyj, a member of the VCU Honors College, will use her Boren Scholarship to study Croatian at the University of Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia. She hopes the experience will support her on a path toward studying sustainable design in graduate school and later working for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Mychaleckyj previously studied abroad during summer 2019, doing biomedical research in Singapore through the Singapore International Pre-Graduate Award. Mychaleckyj grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Nguyen, a member of the VCU Honors College as well as VCU Globe, also will participate in Boren’s African Flagship Language Initiative. Nguyen will study Portuguese at the University of Florida and then in Maputo, Mozambique, where she will take language courses as well as courses related to the culture and traditions of Mozambique. After graduation, she plans to join the Peace Corps and then pursue a law degree to serve as an immigration lawyer. Nguyen grew up in Springfield, Virginia.

A fourth VCU student, senior Madeline Doane, was named an alternate to study Portuguese in Brazil.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the students’ original plans have been altered. The host institutions will provide intensive language study virtually, and study abroad has been delayed to begin no sooner than Jan. 1, 2021.

Doane, Madnick, Mychaleckyj and Nguyen worked with VCU’s National Scholarship Office to apply for the Boren Scholarship. The office supports VCU alumni, graduate students and undergraduates who wish to compete for prestigious national and international scholarships. Interested students and alumni can contact the office at or (804) 828-6868.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 30,000 students in 233 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Twenty-two of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, and MCV Physicians. The clinical enterprise includes a collaboration with Sheltering Arms Institute for physical rehabilitation services. For more, please visit and