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James Gaddis ’19G

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M.A. Government and Politics

When James Gaddis ’19G learned that he was accepted into the prestigious Boren Fellowship program, he knew he would have the “experience of a lifetime.”

“I really wanted this,” said Mr. Gaddis, a student in the M.A. in Government and Politics at St. John’s Rome campus. “You’re actually paid to learn a language that’s important to US interests. You’re immersed in a different culture, and you get to work in a government position once you receive your degree.”

Mr. Gaddis is among only 108 fellowship recipients this year, representing distinguished institutions such as Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania. Through the program, he  is now living in Serbia, where he will spend a  year attending daily language classes and gaining familiarity with every aspect of life in that southeastern European nation.  

“I selected Serbia because I appreciate its role in the regional stability of the Balkans,” he said. “I’m deeply motivated to push myself, to gain more international experience so I can make great contributions in my future.”  

Boren Fellowships, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, allow US graduate students to learn less commonly taught languages in global regions critical to US interests. The program focuses on places that are underrepresented in many study abroad programs, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Boren Fellows—students with exceptional academic credentials who go through a rigorous application process—are highly motivated individuals looking to work in federal national security. In exchange for funding, Boren awardees agree to apply for and accept a yearlong job in the federal government after graduation.  

Mr. Gaddis attributes his acceptance to support he received from St. John’s faculty. For example, his mentor, Frank Le Veness, Ph.D., Professor of Government and Politics, encouraged him to consider the program. Konrad Tuchscherer, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History and Director, Africana Studies Program, helped him with the application process.

“I believe James is a patriot who seeks to serve his nation and the larger regional—and indeed, world—communities,” said Dr. Le Veness. “He has a keen interest in the Balkan area, most particularly in Serbia, and is eager to continue his education in the Serbian language and culture.”

For Mr. Gaddis, being a Boren Fellow offers entrée to a meaningful government career. The program’s alumni receive special hiring status, so they need not compete directly with the general public after graduation.  Ultimately, Mr. Gaddis hopes to advance to an executive policy-making role or a senior Foreign Service position. “Working in the federal government is my dream job,” he said. “I believe it’s an honor to serve.”