VCU student receives Boren Fellowship

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A Virginia Commonwealth University graduate student has been awarded a David L. Boren Fellowship to study in Brazil during the upcoming academic year.

Morgan Maxwell, a psychology doctoral student in her third year of study, will use the award to become proficient in Portuguese while evaluating the impact of culture on the quality of HIV prevention service delivery in Brazil.

“Brazil has the second-highest number of HIV cases in the Western Hemisphere,” Maxwell said. “I’ll be examining cultural factors, stigma, cultural mistrust and personal perceptions – which can all be barriers in the delivery of HIV prevention services.”

Maxwell will live in Salvador in the Brazilian state of Bahia during her fellowship, which will take place from late August 2014 to March 2015.

“Winning a Boren Fellowship is a tremendous recognition of Morgan’s work and passion for international issues and recognizes her strong academic performance,” saidJames S. Coleman, Ph.D., dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences. “Her project examining cultural influences on the quality of HIV prevention services seems to me to be very, very important to human health.”

Fellowship recipients are expected to fulfill federal service requirements. Maxwell hopes to work for the HIV sector of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and use her experiences in Brazil to better inform the delivery of HIV services in the U.S.

“Morgan has consistently demonstrated commitment to international research and activity and the Boren fellowship will support her efforts,” said Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., professor of psychology, who supported Maxwell’s application. “Morgan brings outstanding interpersonal, conceptual, and methodological skills which will support her in conducting her research on HIV prevention in Brazil.”

Maxwell, who is from Charlotte North Carolina., earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Howard University and a master’s degree in Latin American studies from Vanderbilt University.

Boren Fellowships provide up to $30,000 to U.S. graduate students to add an important international and language component to their graduate education through specialization in area study, language study, or increased language proficiency. The fellowships promote long-term linguistic and cultural immersion and are part of National Security Education Program, a federal government initiative to enhance national security by increasing understanding and interaction with foreign cultures and languages.