Max Ranger, a junior from Newport, Michigan, is the first undergraduate student at Central Michigan University to receive the competitive Boren Scholarship.
As an incoming freshman, Ranger knew he wanted to study both political science and international relations, but he developed his interest in African culture and the Swahili language after one particular class project. In Prakash Adhikari's Refugees and Forced Migration course, Ranger connected with refugees in the Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi through a messaging app and helped them learn English. He felt an immediate spark of interest in their culture and language and knew he wanted to learn more.
"Hopefully I will be able to teach refugees in person at some point," he said.
Ranger also fulfills his passion for politics, leadership and international relations as a Student Government Association member and a Leader Advancement Scholar. He previously held the positions of student senator and governmental affairs chair; this fall, he will serve as director of internal affairs for SGA.
"Through SGA, I have built outreach skills working with other organizations, and I was able to find effective solutions for issues faced on campus," he said.
The first step on his Boren Scholarship journey is full-time Swahili classes online this summer. This preparation will help him on his trek to Tanzania, where he will live with a host family in Arusha. There, he will continue his language and culture studies at the MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation before traveling to the State University of Zanzibar to study for the spring semester. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, it is unclear when he will be able to travel to Tanzania, but he's eager and hopeful for the experience of living abroad.
"This will be a new and somewhat uncomfortable journey for me at first, but I am very excited to do it," he said. "Explore your interests in organizations and different classes, or you will never expand your horizons."
Ranger said he looks forward to seeing the wildlife and immersing himself in the culture of the country.
Following his expected graduation in 2023, Ranger hopes to attend graduate school to further his studies in international relations and government work. He hopes to pursue a position with the U.S. Department of Defense or the State Department — specifically working in foreign services in an embassy abroad — or to work on African political policies.
"Being fired up is to be enthused about your mission and what is to come," he said.
Students interested in national and international scholarship programs such as the Boren Award can visit the CMU National Scholarship Program page.
This story was written by University Communications intern Caroline Kramer.