Ali Rabe '10

Alumna awarded prestigious Boren Fellowship

College of Idaho alumna Alison Rabe ’10 never has been afraid to aim high. As a junior at the C of I, the Middleton High School graduate decided to run for student body president. She won.

After graduating in May of 2010, Rabe applied to the College of William and Mary in Virginia, one of the top law schools in the nation. She got in.

Rabe is working toward her law degree and continues to set a high bar for her personal and career goals. Most recently, she applied for the highly competitive Boren Fellowship, an award that provides American graduate students with up to $30,000 to support study and research in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests.

Once again, Rabe was successful. She was awarded the Boren Fellowship and, beginning in August, she will spend 10 months working and studying in Cambodia. The fellowship will support research, language development and exposure to international law that will help Rabe pursue her goal of one day working for the U.S. government in Southeast Asia.

“I first fell in love with Cambodia at The College of Idaho,” said Rabe, who took a study abroad course titled “Buddhism, Authority, and Development” with Professor Rob Dayley and six classmates at the College. “It was an eye-opening experience for me. Rob inspired me to harness a passion for the region. If I hadn't gone on that trip, I definitely would not be where I am now.”

Rabe yearned to return to Cambodia after that trip, and she found an opportunity to do so last year when one of her law professors offered an internship doing criminal defense work in Cambodia. Rabe applied and received an internship with International Bridges for Justice along with grant money from her professor’s program of comparative studies and peace building.

Still, Rabe hadn’t had enough of Cambodia.

“There is something about the intense energy in the country that always draws me back,” Rabe said. “The smells, colors, tastes, emotions and sounds are always loud. The people are disadvantaged, yet incredibly generous and optimistic. It's a challenging yet always exciting place to live. During my internship with IBJ, I began to learn about Cambodia's land problems. I left the country with countless burning questions and wanted to go back (again). This fellowship will give me the opportunity to answer those questions, an opportunity that I am extremely grateful for.”

Rabe actually returned to Cambodia this year as an intern for the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime prior to beginning her Boren Fellowship. Now, she will extend her stay another 10 months while working to improve her knowledge of the language as well as Cambodian culture and law. Rabe is chronicling her experiences via two blogs – she has a student blog on the William and Mary website as well as her own personal blog, Khmer Year. She remains on track to receive her law degree in December of 2013. The Boren Fellowship requires that Rabe works for the federal government for at least one year, and she aspires to work for the U.S. Department of State, either in the capacity of a Foreign Service Officer or in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs after graduation.

“A large part of the Boren Fellowship is language study,” Rabe said. “My experiences have shown that it means so much more to Khmer people when I try to speak with them in their own language; I am able to connect with them on a deeper level. This fellowship is really perfect for what I want to do.”