May 12, 2020
Sirack ’20 Awarded Boren Scholarship to Study Amharic in Addis Ababa

Rahel Sirack ’20 was recently awarded a Boren Scholarship, which she will use to study Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, at Addis Ababa University during the next academic year.

Funded by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), Boren Scholarships prioritize geographic areas, languages and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security and typically underrepresented in study-abroad programs.

“Amharic has a major significance within the Horn of Africa, because Ethiopia is the third most populous country in Africa, right after Nigeria and Egypt,” Sirack said. “Having the ability to speak Amharic is key geopolitically because Ethiopia is close to the Middle East and one of the most important waterways in the world, Bab el-Mandeb.”

Sirack’s parents are from Ethiopia, and while she knows how to speak Amharic, she never had the opportunity to learn to write in the language.

Amharic is one of the most challenging languages to learn because it has seven primary forms and 33 major characters, she explained. These seven forms are based upon a combination of vowels and syllables. There are a total of 231 characters, each having a different meaning when combined with each other.  

“I realized the power of language and communication during my past two internships with the International Institute of New England and the U.S. Department of Defense,” she said. “At IINE, there were many who knew little English. I especially remember two clients. One was from Ethiopia and another was from Somalia and knew how to speak Amharic because of his past career. I will never forget their sigh of relief when they knew that there was someone who knew Amharic and could help them translate. This experience made me realize the power of language because I was able to help them get introduced to American society. I took them shopping, and my ability to communicate with them helped build a sense of trust.”

As an intern at the U.S. Department of Defense (AFRICOM) this past academic year, Sirack studied Chinese investments in Africa and understood having the ability to write in Amharic would allow her to reach a larger audience outside of English speakers.

“It made me realize the strategic importance of Ethiopia and the significance of knowing Amharic,” she said. “The ability to read and write in the language would give me access to understand relevant news outlets and government documents.”

Sirack, a double major in international studies and economics, recently presented capstone research projects on the consequences of Chinese infrastructure investments in Africa and race and income inequality in Boston to earn Distinction in the Field in both disciplines. She plans to find research projects that fit her interests when she begins her studies at Addis Ababa University.  

Rahel Sirack Rahel Sirack '20

Explore Emmanuel

Research Spotlight: Searching for an Evolution Solution

Propelled by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, students and faculty in the Mathematics Department are studying the rate of evolution in spatially structured populations using evolutionary graph theory, which may inform the estimation of important events in our evolutionary past, such as when humans split from our closest primate relatives.

Learn More
Learn More
Research Spotlight: Powerful Partnerships

In collaboration with Emmanuel graduate, Kierstin Giunco ’17, Associated Professor of Education Christine Leighton and current student Kayla Balthazar '20 are working with local elementary students to deepen reading engagement and comprehension.

Learn More
Research Spotlight: Economics Education on a Global Scale

As her research in economics education has focused on innovation in the classroom and finding ways to help students apply economic theories to real-world situations, students are vital in every aspect to Associate Professor of Economics Rebecca Moryl’s work.

Learn More
Eileen Milien '22: A Career-Affirming CURE

When choosing a college, Eileen knew two things for sure—that she would be able to get to know her professors and peers and that she wanted to be in an area in which she would have myriad opportunities in the research and medicine.

Learn More
Melissa Duffy '20: Artist and Appreciator

When Melissa started at Emmanuel, she chose what she believed to be two separate and distinct majors—studio art and history—to fulfill her both her personal and professional interests.

Learn More
Kai Uehara '20: Social Justice Scholar

Kai has always had the inclination to try to make any situation better. When he was searching for colleges, Emmanuel's social justice mission resounded deeply with his ideals of supporting those who need the help.

Learn More
Robert Columbus '20: The Idea Man

Robert’s interest in the workings of the wider world grew in 2011 as the Arab Spring became international news. “I love history,” he said, “so knowing the history of the states as well as their current affairs made their actions and interactions much more interesting to me.”

Learn More
Jake Hill '20: Seeing Citizenship with a Capitol C

Growing up in a suburban town outside of Boston, going to college in the city had always been a goal for Jake. After touring Emmanuel's campus he felt it had the perfect mixture of “small campus feel and big city appeal.”

Learn More
Learn More
Jessie Wang '19: Head of the Class

What began as an on-campus job in Emmanuel's student center transformed into a new career path for Jessie, one that brought her to Harvard University as a master's candidate in higher education administration. 

Learn More
Learn More

Let's Get Started.

Emmanuel is a place where students broaden their sense of what’s possible and prepare for inspiring careers in an ever-changing world. Be here.