William Pentis

boren profiles

William Pentis

2011 Boren Scholarships

Arizona State University

Arabic, Jordan


Before learning about the Boren Scholarship, I was interested in pursuing a career in federal law enforcement or intelligence with little knowledge of how to achieve that goal. I began researching government positions and eventually applied to study Arabic in Cairo, Egypt. However, the Arab Spring protests prompted my school to cancel their program in Egypt, so I enrolled in a program in Amman, Jordan, instead. It ended up being a blessing in disguise; I fell in love with the people and the country.

In Jordan, I enrolled in intensive intermediate Arabic and international economics courses.  After taking Arabic classes only twice a week while at Arizona State University, it was amazing how much I learned spending five days a week speaking only Arabic with local national teachers. My classes included everything from teacher instruction and listening exercises to role playing and comedy improvisation, all designed to help me to learn to speak the language in ways that are applicable to everyday life. 

Studying at the university enhanced my understanding of the academic culture, while living with a host family and interning in the city enhanced my understandings of the social and professional cultures. I interned with a law firm and was able to work on one case that involved fraudulent car parts being manufactured in Jordan, and another case that involved a weapon distributor trademarking their logo in the Middle East.  I also did research on economic fraud and various corporate litigation issues that was passed on to the attorneys.

After returning to the U.S., I was offered a full-time position working as an analyst on a Department of Defense-funded project whose mission is to eliminate the use of improvised explosive devices against U.S. troops abroad. My year in Jordan provided me the cultural aptitude, linguistic knowledge and professional development necessary to support that mission and the national security of the United States.

Written: July 2012

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