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Sources: Sean Webeck, webecks@k-state.edu;
and James Hohenbary, 785-532-6904, jimlth@k-state.edu
Photo available. Download at http://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/jun11/624webecksean.jpg
News release prepared by: Jennifer Torline, 785-532-0847, jtorline@k-state.edu

Friday, June 24, 2011

GRADUATE STUDENT'S INTEREST IN SECURITY STUDIES, TRAVEL LEADS TO BOREN FELLOWSHIP IN JORDAN

MANHATTAN -- International travel has been a way of life for Kansas State University graduate student Sean Webeck.

As a 2011 Boren Fellow he now has the chance to study abroad and further his understanding of the Middle East. Webeck, master's student in security studies, Manhattan, will travel in December to Amman, Jordan, to spend a year studying Arabic.

"This is a great opportunity to improve my Arabic and gain more knowledge of the Arab culture," Webeck said. "I'm excited to learn and use the language while immersed in its native environment. I hope to improve my Arabic to the level wherein I can use it for research during my doctoral studies and beyond."

Boren fellowships fund study and research in many regions of the world with the aim of producing future leaders who possess a greater understanding of the languages and cultures within those regions. The fellowship provides as much as $30,000 for as long as two academic years and is funded by the National Security Education Program, a government initiative that focuses on geographic areas, languages and fields of study deemed critical to national security.

After graduation Boren Fellows must work for the federal government for at least a year in a job related to national security.

This year the Boren Foundation received a record number of 625 applications for the Boren Fellowship, an increase of 20 percent from last year's applications.

"The Boren Fellowship is a very prestigious honor," said Craig Stapley, director of K-State's security studies program. "We are very proud of Sean's hard work and he reflects very positively on the security studies program and Kansas State University. We look forward to his return after his studies in Jordan and know that he will bring experience and knowledge that will make us all better."

Webeck had originally applied to spend the upcoming year studying in Damascus, Syria. Because of the country's political unrest he will instead fulfill the fellowship in Jordan. Along with studying Arabic, he'll research terrorist deradicalization programs in the Middle East.

"Sean eventually hopes to teach other future leaders about the political and security dynamics of the Middle East, and the Boren Fellowship is a terrific opportunity for him because it will allow him to further his Arabic skills and add even more depth of understanding regarding cultures within the region," said James Hohenbary, K-State assistant dean for nationally competitive scholarships.

Living overseas in nothing new to Webeck, who has frequently traveled abroad. As an undergraduate at Wabash College in Indiana he studied in Spain. He then taught English for one year in China. He served five years in the U.S. Army as an Arabic linguist and was deployed to Iraq from 2007 to 2009.

But this time Webeck will travel overseas with his wife, Jennifer, and their three children. Webeck and his wife met at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., where they both studied Arabic. He is excited at the opportunity to share the adventure of international travel with his family.

"My wife and I will be able to share insights we gain about the culture and language with each other," Webeck said. "I also think this is a great opportunity for my children to learn about people who are in many ways different and in many ways similar to them."

After his year abroad Webeck hopes to continue his studies. He would eventually like to perform research and is interested in teaching in a professional military education setting.

"I know you have to plan in order to achieve, but I've also learned to value diligence over planning," Webeck said. "Life is just too short not to take an open door of opportunity when it presents itself. I will fulfill my service requirement and then we'll see where the world takes our family."

At K-State, Webeck is the president of the Organization of Political Science, Public Administration and Security Studies. He also received a Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani Scholarship for the 2011-2012 school year.