University News

National Security Major Receives Prestigious Boren Award

Angélica Cruz ’21 is one of only 240 students nationwide to receive the David L. Boren Scholarship, which will support her studying Mandarin in China. She is now the fourth University of New Haven student to receive the prominent prize.

April 30, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Angelica Cruz on the bridge to Chernobyl
Angélica Cruz ’21 on the bridge to the Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine, which she visited as part of the WARCourse.

When Angélica Cruz ’21 was taking the “WARCourse,” an innovative course taught by Matthew Schmidt, Ph.D., the experience included a simulation of D-Day in Normandy with a group of her classmates and a visit to Chernobyl. Dr. Schmidt says Cruz stood out for her ability to handle challenges and inspire others.

“I encourage students to be leaders, and Angélica was one of those leaders,” said Dr. Schmidt, an associate professor of national security and political science and Cruz’s adviser. “She was calm under pressure and her classmates gravitated to her.”

A Puerto Rico native, Cruz has become the fourth University of New Haven student to earn the prestigious David L. Boren Scholarship, a program administered by the Institute of International Education that supports study abroad by U.S. undergraduate students in world regions critical to U.S. interests. She is one of only 240 students nationwide to receive a Boren Scholarship this year.

Cruz in prato with other students
Cruz (second from left) and her fellow national security students and faculty members in Prato, Italy this past fall.

“After receiving the email that said I’d been selected, I read it over and over again to make sure I was not reading it incorrectly or imagining things,” said Cruz, a national security major. “I couldn't believe it. Then it hit me, and I just couldn't stop smiling.”

Cruz plans to use the $20,000 scholarship to travel to China to study Mandarin. She plans to spend the 2020-21 academic year in China – if circumstances due to the global COVID-19 pandemic allow.

Cruz in Rome
Cruz visited the Coliseum in Rome as part of the WARCourse.

“I am interested in specializing in East Asian affairs academically and professionally, and this scholarship will expose me to a culture and environment I aim to learn more about and understand,” said Cruz, who hopes to work for the federal government in the intelligence field. “Learning thoroughly about a country, its culture, and language requires a great extent of immersion, as I came to experience during my time at the University's campus in Italy.”

Dr. Schmidt, the Boren Scholarship representative on campus, says students who receive the award must be able to handle the rigors of studying abroad and be able to persevere, even when their work proves to be difficult.

“Angélica is brilliant, tough, and resilient – all qualities the Boren Scholarship committee looks for,” said Dr. Schmidt, who also had Cruz as a student while teaching at the University’s Tuscany Campus last fall. “This scholarship is very prestigious, and she was competing against students from schools such as Yale. I hope more University of New Haven students will apply in the future.”

Cruz and other students in Washington
Cruz (holding the red jacket) attended the Washington Internship Institute Spring 2020 Orientation.

For more information about the Boren Award, please contact Dr. Matthew Schmidt at The deadline to apply for next year’s award is January 27, 2021.