Boren Scholarship Recipient Spotlight: Gabrielle Beckford

VCU Student Receives Boren Award
April 2016

VCU student Gabrielle “Gabby” Beckford, a junior mathematics major from Stafford, Virginia, received a Boren Scholarship to study Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) for one academic year at American University in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Gabby BeckfordDuring her time abroad she will study MSA in the hopes of attaining a certificate in Middle Eastern Studies along with continuing her studies in Mathematics.

“I was really drawn to the chance to study abroad for such an extended period of time…especially unique was the fact that I could choose the country I went to. I may not have ever had the chance to go to Dubai otherwise!” Gabby said.

Along with her mathematics studies, Gabby also has a passion for writing. “I write for my own travel website,, so I knew a chance to study abroad with a scholarship like the Boren would also be fantastic to write about as well,” she said.

Upon her completion of the program she will return to Richmond to complete her studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Along with becoming proficient in MSA, Gabby hopes to work for the government and secure a position as a Grade 04 or 05 Engineer at the United States Naval Surface Warfare Center.

When asked if she has any advice for future Boren Award applicants, she said: “Ask for help. There are so many resources at your scholarship office to help you compile a great application. Get your essays checked, rechecked, and checked again, and ask for advice from previous recipients! Also: have a clear idea. The future is never certain, but believe in your passion and what you want to do and run with it, don’t second guess it.”

Boren Scholarships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. national security interests, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Gabby and her fellow applicants worked with the National Scholarship Office (NSO) at Virginia Commonwealth University to apply for the Boren Award. The NSO works with VCU alumni, graduate students, and undergraduates who wish to compete for prestigious national and international scholarships, such as the Boren Scholarship or Fellowship.  If you are interested in applying for the Boren Scholarship or Fellowship or other nationally or internationally competitive scholarships, please contact the NSO at or (804) 828-6868.

Gabby has also received the VCU Dean’s Scholarships, the AFCEA STEM Scholarship, and the DAUAA Scholarship.

Gabby’s organizations and special interests include: National Society of Black Engineers, Alpha Gamma Delta Women’s Fraternity, Women in Mathematics club, and the VCU Global Conversation Partner program. She enjoys traveling recreationally, and writing at She was recently published on Huffington Post.



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