The year-long fellowship, which provides funding of as much as $24,000, supports students with specializations in country- or region-specific study, language proficiency and research that is considered critical to the national security of the United States.
With her Boren Award, Drabek plans to travel to the West African country of Benin to continue studying Bariba, the language she learned while serving there as a Peace Corps volunteer in 2014-16. She will also be an intern at a local non-governmental organization, ONG Equi-Filles, that works to further women's and girls' equality in Northern Benin.
“It is an honor to be able to return to Benin to further my knowledge of Bariba and work firsthand with a successful, Beninese-run NGO,” Drabek said. “Not only does my award indicate that indigenous languages such as Bariba are valued by the U.S. government, it also encourages collaboration with cultures that don't always make it onto the front pages our newspapers.”
Drabek is majoring in international education development. Her professional interests include gender equity, women's rights, youth development and curriculum design. From Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y., she holds an undergraduate degree in French and linguistics from Georgetown University.