'I hope to help rebuild Nepal'

| 04 Jun 2015 | 04:28

By Anya Tikka
— Colleen Fagan, who graduated from Delaware Valley High School in 2011, has been accepted in a Federal Boren Scholarship program. She will go to Nepal, learn to speak the language, and study at the Trubhuvan University to further her knowledge in the field she’s already studied in the biology undergraduate program at Lemoyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. She was one of 171 chosen from 750 applicants.

The 22-year old was on a break from college, and met with the Courier for a brief interview.

“The main reason for doing this is that I didn’t get to study abroad during my undergraduate years, and wanted to continue in science,” she explained. “Their current program has a research component, something I want to do.”

Colleen will study public health and epidemiology.

She applied for the scholarship as part of her regular application to Cornell through whom the program is administered, although it’s sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), “a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills.” It was introduced and named after Senator David L. Boren.

In exchange, the recipients agree to work for the federal government for a year.

Colleen has already done service trips to Quito in Ecuador and the Commonwealth of Dominica in the Lesser Antilles, as well as high school trips to Europe, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and London. She also went to New Orleans after Katrina to help rebuild on two separate trips.

“My dad helped me to choose among the different programs,” Colleen explained. Her dad works in sales, and has had a military career, and her mom is a third-grade teacher at the Delaware Valley School District.

Colleen has a guaranteed job with the federal government on return from Nepal, and she’ll get to choose which branch to go for: Centers for Disease Control, or National Institutes of Health.

She said she’s motivated by wanting to contribute to public health and increase understanding between different cultures. “It’s rewarding, and I hope to be of service,” she said.

Colleen leaves on her trip late August. Her application was made long before the devastating Nepal earthquake, and she found out she was going one week before it.

“I hope to help rebuild Nepal,” she said.