Amber Wright
Amber Wright

Amber Wright, majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts, is used to being busy, shouldering a full load of classes, student activities and internships that have included working for U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper.

Wright, a second-year undergraduate at Colorado State University, recently learned that all that hard work is paying dividends.

Wright was informed that she is the recipient of a prestigious David L. Boren Award from the National Security Education Program to study language and culture abroad. On top of that, she was also chosen as a fellow for the highly selective Public Policy and International Affairs Program, in which she will be studying at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh this summer.

“In both situations, I applied, hoping for the best,” said Wright, whose studies focus on global policy and politics. “So, when I was accepted for both, it felt incredible. I’m very grateful to be accepted into both, especially since I can’t wait to meet all the people in these different programs.”

For the Public Policy and International Affairs Program, Wright and select students will spend six weeks at Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, gaining the knowledge and network to succeed in the field of public service.

For the Boren Award, she is working to set up a semester-long language immersion experience in Tanzania to study Swahili. Since 1994, more than 7,000 students have received Boren Awards in the highly competitive program, representing an important pool of individuals wishing to work in the federal national security area.

Department of Political Science Professor and Chair Robert Duffy explained that Wright’s academic and internship experiences have set her up for success in these programs.

“Amber is a fantastic student with a wealth of leadership experience on and off campus,” he said. “She participated in both the D.C. legislative and CSU internships and has served as an orientation leader, a student mentor for the Office of International Programs, an admissions ambassador, Associate Justice in ASCSU and as associate editor for the Journal of Undergraduate Research. It is really impressive that she has been able to maintain a perfect GPA while being so involved in public service.”

Wright’s interest in public policy started as a teenager when her mother took her to the 2017 Women’s March on Denver. Since then, she has had the opportunity to intern for Hickenlooper as well as Rep. Karen McCormick in the Colorado General Assembly.  This semester, she helped qualify Initiative 89 for the ballot this November, which would enshrine the right to abortion in the Colorado Constitution. She also was honored as a young leader in the movement at the Colorado State Capitol in April.

In between, Wright also studied abroad twice in Ecuador and vacationed with family in Mexico, learning Spanish. She explained that her interest in studying Swahili stems from a natural curiosity as well as the language’s legacy as a trade language between East African coastal towns and the Persian Gulf.

Long term, anything is possible. Wright said she would love to work for the State Department, specializing in East African politics. She also would be interested in creating change at home.

Either way, she’s living in the moment and looking forward to these new experiences, especially spending a semester in Tanzania.

“I’ve taken a couple of (international) trips, but I’ve never spent this long abroad,” she said. “So, I’m just really excited at the prospect of just how much I will learn through Boren, and then I’ll take that with me wherever I go next.”

Office of Scholarship and Fellowship Advising

The Office for Scholarship and Fellowship Advising assists current students interested in applying for an external award. Current CSU undergraduate students interested in applying for a Boren Award and other scholarships should contact Mary Swanson, program director of the Office for Scholarship and Fellowship Advising, at