Nicole Behnke ’16 wins Boren Fellowship

News | May 3, 2019

Nicole Behnke (Nikki) is one of three Carolina students are being recognized by the National Security Education Program with a Boren Fellowship, which supports fields of study identified as critical to the national security of the United States.

Nikki is one of 106 graduate students chosen for David L. Boren Fellowships this year. She and a fellow UNC graduate student are the the 18th and 19th Boren Fellows from Carolina, and an undergraduate student is the is University’s 15th Boren Scholar.

The Boren Awards program provides U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of our nation. In exchange for funding, Boren Award recipients agree to work in the federal government for at least one year.

Nikki is the daughter of Paul and Debra Behnke of Durham. Nikki graduated from Carolina with majors in peace, war, and defense and political science and a minor in environmental studies. She is currently a graduate student in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her Boren Fellowship will fund her study of Modern Standard Arabic at Qasid Arabic Institute in Amman, Jordan.

During her time as an undergraduate, Nikki worked as a field researcher in Zambia with UNC’s Water Institute. After graduating, she worked as a research assistant at Water 2017, a global water advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. As a current graduate student in the second year of pursuing a master’s of science in public health in environmental sciences and engineering, she continues to work as a graduate research assistant at the Water Institute. She received a Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship to study Arabic through UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies for the 2017-2018 academic year.

“Thanks to the National Security Education Program, three Carolina students will advance their language skills and understanding of other cultures, which will help them better serve our nation and the world,” said Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz.