Jeffrey Stiles ‘16
Double major in politics and Chinese studies; minor in Spanish
A scene from the 2006 remake of “The Pink Panther”—when character Jacques Clouseau insists that he must know Chinese so his co-workers can't gossip about him around the water cooler in a language he doesn’t understand—first caused Jeffrey Stiles '16 to contemplate, "Why don't I speak Chinese?”
His interest in Chinese language, culture, politics and history led him to Messiah, one of only a few Christian schools with a Chinese studies major. A double major in politics and Chinese studies with a Spanish minor, Stiles recently received a $20,000 Boren Scholarship to study in China.
Boren Scholarships, administered by the Institute for International Education and funded by the National Security Education Program, are awarded annually to undergraduates interested in foreign relations careers. Recipients study in under-represented areas of the world critical to U.S. interests and security. In exchange for the scholarship, students serve one year in the federal government in a national security position after graduation. In China Stiles will take intensive courses in Mandarin, politics and economics at Shanghai International Studies University.
The Boren application process is rigorous, requiring two well-researched essays. To make sure applicants have done their homework, they must provide detailed information about which language program they are interested in and how they plan to cultivate their language abilities upon returning to the U.S.
“It wasn’t enough to say Chinese is important and not many people in our country speak it,” explained Stiles. “They want facts, dates, statistics. They wanted to make sure investing in me was a smart move.”
John Harles, professor of politics and Messiah’s advisor for national scholarship competitions, said he was confident Stiles was a good fit for Boren candidacy. “He is smart, linguistically able—fluent in Spanish and determined to become so in Mandarin, has a big view of the world and isn’t afraid of hard work,” said Harles.
After graduation, Stiles hopes to join the Peace Corps, study international law and work as a diplomat for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
-Adela Antal ’16