Alexia Gaines, 1st Year CEAS Student, wins Boren Scholarship to South Korea

By: Shannon Frohme
May 28, 2015 

Fulfilling her passion for Korean language and culture, the first year electrical engineering student will spend spring 2016 semester in South Korea.

Alexia Gaines, a self-proclaimed persistent and ambitious freshman in the UC CEAS electrical engineering program, gratefully reaps her rewards for dedication to diversity and love for languages as she prepares to study at Korea University in Seoul. Out of 750 applicants, Alexia and 171 determined students were awarded the Boren Scholarship, a nationally competitive award that provides the funds to study in a location and language that is of interest to US national security and is underrepresented in study abroad programs.

Alexia Gaines, first year CEAS electrical engineering student to study abroad in South Korea on the Boren Scholarship

Alexia Gaines, first year CEAS electrical engineering student to study abroad in South Korea on the Boren Scholarship

In her first-year at the University of Cincinnati, Gaines went above and beyond the rigorous requirements of the CEAS electrical engineering curriculum by immersing herself in several student organizations. Alexia is a ROAR Campus tour guide, a member of the AARC Gospel Choir, Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society and University Honors Program, and recipient of Darwin T. Turner and Cincinnati University Scholarships.

Alexia elaborates on her campus involvement, “I knew coming to UC that electrical engineering was a difficult field to pursue, but I was determined to succeed while actively participating in student culture. It wasn’t easy, but I’m most proud of my ability to manage both my academics and student involvement.”

Diversity has always been a significant part of Alexia’s life, as her parents stressed the importance of the increasingly global society we live in from an early age. From as early as seventh grade, Alexia taught herself how to read, write and speak the Korean language. She fell in love with Korean culture, traditions, movies, music and food.

During her senior year of high school, Gaines attended a Korean-speaking school for nine months. Immersion into a second language, Alexia explains, “Was absolutely invaluable. I was also able to take the TOPIK, a South Korean proficiency test, which gave me a clear understanding of my language abilities.”

Both shocked and proud of receiving such a prestigious and nationally competitive scholarship, Alexia’s determination to study abroad in Korea has finally paid off. This experience will enrich her dream to incorporate her love for languages with the technical knowledge of electrical engineering in order to pursue a career in the security industry and government.

Alexia hopes to one day live abroad, and she believes this experience will strengthen her comprehension of cross-cultural communication and globalization. Alexia goes on to say, “Study abroad experiences broaden your global perspective and what it means to be a global citizen- a person who doesn’t forget their nationality but is able to work and live in another person’s culture.”

To prospective study abroad students, Alexia encourages those who may be apprehensive or doubtful, “Embrace a study abroad opportunity as a continual learning process. Be willing to fail and make mistakes. It’s part of the journey!”

Aiding in Alexia’s application process for the nationally competitive Boren Scholarship were Ms. Cara Pickett, Assistant Director for UC’s Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, and Mr. Ryan Meyer, Assistant Director for UC’s International Program.