Kaylah Pinkney ‘19 received a prestigious Boren Scholarship, and will move to Nanjing, China starting in September of this year, studying the Mandarin language and the practices of traditional Chinese medicine at Nanjing University.
Pinkney graduated with the Class of 2019, receiving a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience with a Chinese Language minor. She says the Boren scholarship perfectly aligns with her post-graduation plan, allowing her to study in China for a year and afterward fulfilling the required year of federal service, before taking on medical school — and federal service was already something Pinkney hoped to do. As it encompasses many different departments of government, federal service sets her on a path with endless opportunities to continue an international career while also focusing on U.S. national security.
“Learning Mandarin has had an enormous impact on my growth as a student and person for the past 10 years,” Pinkney said. “Boren was the perfect opportunity to improve my language study while also pursuing my interests in the medical field.”
The Boren Scholarships and Fellowships were created by David L. Boren, and are sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP). The scholarship is meant to encourage students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad programs. Administered by the Institute of International Education on behalf of NSEP, only 244 scholarships were awarded across the nation.
Professor Patrick Jackson, who initially encouraged Pinkney to apply, saw the scholarship as an invaluable opportunity.
“Kaylah has a pretty unique opportunity here to study traditional Chinese medicine at its source with the people who best understand it,” Jackson said. “As our ideas of what constitutes the most effective medical practices expands and evolves, she’s going to find herself at the center of some very interesting conversations. This is what the liberal arts are all about: making connections and seeing what happens when you do it.”
Pinkney has been fortunate enough to travel previously with her family to Europe and Asia — and has already studied in China during the summer of 2017, on the Critical Languages Scholarship. She lived in Suzhou, China with a host family and went to Soochow University for two months.
“Language is a facet of Chinese culture — the main aspect that draws me to China. It is a vast, multifaceted culture that the people take much pride in. I love that each province and city has its own story, its own cuisine, its own dialect. Each is a microcosm within China with their own unique cultural and traditional values. I really enjoy interacting with the natives from different provinces, learning about their life story and view of the world.”
Living in China for an extended period of time will allow Pinkney to fully immerse herself in the language and culture, and get a deeper understanding for the differences between Chinese medical practices and Western medical practices.
“I really look forward to meeting international students from around the world in my program with similar interests as I do,” Pinkney said. “I love the food in China so I am definitely excited to enjoy authentic Chinese cuisine again. Each time I travel to China, I never want to leave because there is always more to learn, see, and eat. Also, I plan to travel around Asia while I am there for the year.”
While at Allegheny, Pinkney was on the Varsity Women’s Basketball team all four years, was a member of the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students, tutored in calculus and in the community for middle school and high school students, and was a chemistry Teaching Assistant for organic chemistry and biochemistry.
After Pinkney completes a year at Nanjing University, she will apply to medical schools for Fall 2021, and to the Air Force Health Profession Scholarship Program (HPSP). Once she finishes medical school, she plans to complete her service requirement through the HPSP and serve as a physician in the Air Force.