Making Cal State LA History at Home & Abroad

Karyos Tyus student who received Boren Scholarship

Karyos Tyus is the first Cal State LA student in history to receive the prestigious Boren Award, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, to study abroad.

Karyos Tyus is the first Cal State LA student in history to receive the prestigious Boren Award, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, to study abroad. His interest in international studies was ignited during his sophomore year when he attended a Cal State LA Study Abroad Information Session, and learned of the travel opportunities and financial assistance possibilities that were available to him. Since then, Tyus’ passion for language learning to build cultural bridges is coming to fruition.

Through the CSU International Programs, a system-wide study abroad program for California State University students, Tyus first studied abroad at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico where he studied Spanish and worked in the university’s International Affairs office for one semester. His interest in the Spanish language fulfilled a desire to communicate and bridge the African American and Latino communities in his Los Angeles neighborhood. “This trip provided me with the cultural insight I wanted to experience. Afterward, I could not wait to do it again!”

Upon his return from Mexico and declaration as an English major with Pan-African studies minor, Tyus met with Sonja Lind, Ph.D., Cal State LA’s study abroad coordinator, to discuss additional study abroad opportunities that would contribute to his academic growth, and personal and professional development. “I wanted advisement on selecting a funded study abroad program that would enhance my studies and set me on a career path after graduation,” says Tyus. During their meeting, Tyus learned about the Boren Award. In exchange for study abroad funding, Boren Scholars commit to working in the Federal Government national security arena for at least one year following graduation. “Having studied African history as part of my minor, I became very interested in the connection between the United States and Tanzania, and my Boren application narrative reflected that.”

The strength of Tyus’ application earned him a $20,000 Boren Award to study Swahili, a critical foreign language, first at the University of Florida (UF), and then at the MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation in Tanzania.

After attending a Boren Scholar orientation in Washington, D.C., Tyus took two months of intensive classes and tutoring to learn Swahili at UF. On weekends, he met with Swahili speaking families to practice using the language.

In Tanzania, Tyus stayed with a family in Arusha, north of Dar es Salaam, while taking additional classes in Tanzanian literature, history, and advanced Swahili. “Per my scholarship contract, I could not speak English in order to achieve full language and cultural immersion. To deepen my mental involvement, for one week I also lived with the Massai people, an African tribe that still lives a nomadic lifestyle. That was an experience I’ll never forget.”

Tyus’ career goal is to become a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, promoting peace, supporting prosperity, and protecting American citizens while advancing the interests of the United States abroad. To that end, he will attend a U.S. Department of Justice job fair in Washington, D.C. this summer to meet with representatives from various areas of the Federal government to work on job placement either at a U.S. embassy or in the capital immediately upon graduation in 2020.

“Studying abroad shifts your mindset to a more global spectrum of seeing values you didn’t recognize before.” Tyus’ advice to Cal State LA students thinking of studying abroad is to embrace being uncomfortable. “Being a foreigner is a mind-blowing experience if you just take the leap.”

By PaGE Career Services
PaGE Career Services