MACON – Mercer University senior Theori Alise Henry was recently awarded a Boren Scholarship to study Swahili in Tanzania through the scholarship program’s African Flagship Language Initiative.

Boren Scholars commit one year to public service, working in positions critical to U.S. national security throughout the federal government, following their study overseas.

Henry, an international affairs and global development double-major from Columbus, aspires to become a Foreign Service Officer and diplomat for the United States in Africa. She intends to pursue additional postgraduate opportunities, such as Rangel and Pickering fellowships, and to earn a law degree in human rights or public international law.

“I am extremely grateful for all of the support which has allowed me to reach this point in my academic career,” said Henry. “For their commitment, I would like to first thank my professors for challenging me to grow as a student. I must also thank my parents and brothers for motivating me to make a difference. My parents have encouraged me to change the world, and Mercer’s professors have given me the knowledge and resources to do so. Most importantly, I would like to thank God for the plans that He has for my life. This opportunity propels me toward my future career in the foreign service, and I feel blessed to have obtained this award. I am excited to serve others through my leadership in the U.S. Department of State. This opportunity is only one step in a long career centered on being a positive force in the world and representing the United States on a global stage.”

As a Boren Scholar, Henry will participate in intensive language study through domestic and overseas language programs in Swahili. The domestic portion of her program will be conducted by the University of Florida this summer, and in the fall, she will study in Arusha, Tanzania, for two months.

In addition to three language and content courses on Swahili and the history of Tanzania, she will participate in regular academic trips to areas in and around the Usa River and Arusha region, dedicate four hours of language partner conversation time per week and contribute to a weekly Swahili newsletter of current events in Tanzania.

At Mercer, Henry minored in Spanish and has participated in Model Arab League, mock trial and the K-pop Dance Team. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Sigma Iota and Pi Sigma Alpha honor societies and a recipient of the Political Science Department’s James and Sandra Cox Scholarship.

“The Boren Scholarship provides Theori with a fascinating opportunity to connect her strong interest in foreign affairs and language to U.S. national security priorities,” said Dr. Eimad Houry, professor of political science and director of the International Affairs Program. “I have confidence that the African Language Flagship Initiative will be invaluable in improving her linguistic abilities and deepening her understanding of Tanzanian history and culture. Theori has worked very hard to position herself to compete successfully for this prestigious and highly selective award. She should be profoundly proud of this achievement, and I am very happy to have had a small role to play in preparing her for this opportunity.”

David L. Boren Scholarships and Fellowships are sponsored by the National Security Education Program, a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills.

Boren Awards provide U.S. undergraduate and graduate students with resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of the nation. In exchange for funding, recipients agree to work in the federal government for a period of at least one year.

About the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences serves as the academic cornerstone of one of America’s oldest and most distinctive institutions of higher learning. The oldest and largest of Mercer’s 12 schools and colleges, it is a diverse and vibrant community, enrolling more than 1,900 students, dedicated to learning and service through the practice of intellectual curiosity, respectful dialogue and responsible citizenry. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers majors in more than 30 areas of study, including more than a dozen pre-professional academic tracks, with classes taught by an outstanding faculty of scholars. In 2015, Mercer was awarded a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society that recognizes exceptional achievement in the arts and sciences. For more information, visit