Fran Woodworth: Boren Fellowship recipient to study Portuguese in Brazil 

UMaine graduate student Fran Woodworth of Rockport, Maine has been awarded the prestigious Boren Fellowship to study Portuguese in Salvador, Brazil. 

The Institute of International Education (IIE), on behalf of the National Security Education Program (NSEP), grants Boren Fellowships to graduate students in order to fund their research and language study proposals in world regions critical to U.S. interests. Each fellowship provides up to $25,000 for up to 52 weeks of study, according to the Boren Awards website. Woodworth is one of the 121 fellowship recipients out of the 246 that applied, according to the institute. She is also the third UMaine graduate student in three years to receive this fellowship. 

Woodworth, who is enrolled in the 4+1 program in the School of Policy and International Affairs (SPIA), is studying global policy with a concentration in climate policy. She says that SPIA has provided her with exposure to global issues that deepened her interest in climate policy and public service. 

The fellowship is geared toward public service with a yearlong service requirement. Woodworth says this will help her to start to pursue her career goals while also being given the opportunity to study Portuguese. 

Woodworth was also able to study abroad in her undergraduate studies and says that it is one of the most fulfilling and formative experiences she has experienced. She says she is looking forward to the cultural immersion, language skills and friendships that will come from her time in Brazil. 

“I am honored to have received this fellowship, and excited to go abroad,” Woodworth says. “I’m also immensely grateful for all the support I received from my professors and mentors at UMaine.”

Woodworth says that she couldn’t have completed the application without the support she has received from the UMaine Office of Major Scholarships, the Office of International Programs (OIP) and her peers in SPIA. Several UMaine faculty added to her achievement of receiving the fellowship by writing recommendation letters and sharing their experiences with international politics and public service. 

“Fran’s outstanding intellect, passion for languages and intense work ethic make her an ideal candidate for the Boren Fellowship,” says Capt. Jim Settele, executive director of SPIA. “She has distinguished herself as an intelligent, inquisitive, mature and motivated student equipped both intellectually and temperamentally to handle the rigors of an immersion program studying Portuguese in Brazil. Fran is destined for an impactful career as a public servant.”

How will studying Portuguese in Brazil assist you with your academic or professional goals? 
The language skills that I acquire through the fellowship will be useful for a future career in public service. Portuguese is a diplomatically important language, especially in the realm of climate policy. I also expect that cultivating adaptability, communication skills, and knowledge about Brazilian culture will serve my professional goals.

Why did you choose to come to UMaine?
I chose UMaine because it offered courses in political science and international affairs, it’s close to my family, and it’s affordable.

Describe any research, internships or scholarly pursuits that you have participated in at UMaine:
During undergrad, I was a finance intern for the Sara Gideon for Maine campaign and briefly a student senator. During grad school I was a grant writing intern for Welcoming Immigrant Neighbors. 

Have you worked with a mentor, professor or role model who has made your time at UMaine better, and if so, how?
So many! Capt. Settele, Professor Kenneth Hillas, and Professor Nicholas Micinski in particular have been incredible mentors and have made SPIA a really rewarding experience. They have modeled commitment to public service and have gone above and beyond to help their students succeed. The OIP staff have also been role models for embracing diversity and intercultural exchanges.

Have you had an experience at UMaine that has shaped or changed how you see the world? 
My experiences in SPIA and OIP have changed my perspective, as I’ve studied and worked with people from all over the world. It’s been challenging and fulfilling to consider global issues with people from very diverse backgrounds.

What are your plans for after you graduate? How has UMaine prepared you for them?
After graduation I’ll do the service requirement. I’m ultimately aiming to go into public service — I’m considering the Foreign Service and USAID. UMaine has equipped me with skills and a network of support to pursue these goals.

For a complete list of scholarships and fellowships available to UMaine undergraduate and graduate students, visit UMaine’s Office of Major Scholarships website. Students interested in learning more about the Boren Fellowship and other major merit scholarships also can reach out to the director of the Office of Major Scholarships, Nives Dal Bo-Wheeler

Contact: Hope Carroll,