A College of Southern Nevada student has received a prestigious Boren Scholarship, a rarity for community college students and the first ever awarded to a CSN student.
Student Selene Moreno called it “the best news I have ever received.”
“I still think that this is all a dream,” she said.
The National Security Education Program awarded just 171 scholarships this year out of 750 applications. The federally funded scholarships are intended to provide U.S. college students the resources and encouragement needed to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of the country. Award recipients agree to work for the federal government for at least a year later on.
Moreno is a dealer in a local casino, working an overnight shift. She comes to class after her shifts end in the morning.
She said she fell in love with Middle Eastern culture years ago, and even started a Middle Eastern dance club while a student at Rancho High School. She’s traveled to Egypt, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates.
When she enrolled at CSN, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to study. She took an Arabic class, and of course she loved it.
“I was hooked,” she said. “I took all the classes I needed to take and realized that with my passion and knowledge of Middle Eastern culture and language, I could do so much.”
She applied for the Boren Award two years ago, but didn’t get it. That was really disappointing, but Moreno didn’t give up. She worked on raising her grades, and asked for help from her CSN English professor and mentor, Albert Puente.
She crafted new essays, submitted an application this year, and won.
She had wanted to study in Egypt, but that’s not going to be allowed for security concerns. She’ll study in Jordan instead, a country she’s never been to.
She’s still completely blown away that she actually gets to do this.
“It’s fair to say that my hard work actually paid off,” she said.