Fellowships Build Skills for SESP Students

Fellowships Build Skills for SESP Students

David Kane

As David Kane (BS07) reflects on his career so far, he feels lucky to have served as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow. “I was able to combine my interest in community-based work with policy advocacy,” he says. During his fellowship he helped patient families at the Boston Medical Center obtain food stamp benefits, and he also worked at the Center for American Progress in the months leading up to the 2008 presidential election.

“I was able to develop new skills in client relations, and research and writing,” he notes. Then drawing on the training he received from the staff at the Congressional Hunger Center, he made a fluid transition to working at a small food justice nonprofit organization in East Palo Alto. “In that role I was able to implement a variety of community-based programs designed to simultaneously address public health challenges and empower local residents to improve their food supply.” He later became interim executive director of the nonprofit organization for his final five months on the job.

Now Kane is in law school at UCLA, enrolled in the public interest law and policy program since he wants to be a lawyer who works in partnership with community-based efforts. After law school he plans to “work to connect marginalized populations with the power of policy, advocacy and the legal system.” 

He is one of many SESP students who have sought fellowships to build their skills and gain hands-on experience in fields they want to pursue. A fellowship is also valuable to clarify career goals, transition to a new field or build a resume and extend a network. Often fellowships lead to desirable jobs or exceptional graduate programs. Fellowships usually last from several months to two years, and they often include graduate-level course work, mentoring and workplace learning, as well as sometimes living stipends. Some employers offer support for fellowship programs. The Northwestern Office of Fellowships provides extensive resources related to fellowships.  

Shira Bergstein

Here are updates on other SESP fellowship winners:

After Shira Bergstein (BS06) won the James H. Dunn Memorial Fellowship, she spent three years working as a staff and legislative assistant for the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee's Transportation Subcommittee. Her fellowship experience helped to develop her understanding of the world of policy. “Working for the State of Illinois in Washington, D.C., exposed me to the D.C. political scene and helped me understand the delicate balance between state and federal policies,” she says. 

She worked on issues ranging from intercity passenger rail to goods movement to transportation security. Now she is continuing her education as a master’s student in urban and regional planning at UCLA and will graduate in June. 

Susan MacDougall

Susan MacDougall’s (BS07) two fellowships in Jordan opened doors on her path in academia. She is now a graduate student at Oxford University, continuing research she began in 2009 and resumed through her Fulbright fellowship in Jordan in 2011. Her research examines Iraqi refugees’ social lives in Jordan and how Jordan's policies shape their experience there. “I actually studied abroad in Jordan for the first time during my junior year at Northwestern, and have been back several times since — once as a Fulbrighter, another time on a Foreign Language and Area Studies grant to study Arabic, and once or twice to visit,” she explains. MacDougall aspires to become a professor.

For Lauren Parnell Marino (BS07), fellowships led to a job and built a network. After a Northwestern University Public Interest Program (NUPIP) fellowship at the nonprofit Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago, she worked for a fair-trade crafts business in Uganda. Two years out of college she applied for a George J. Mitchell Scholarship, which allowed her to study at National University of Ireland in Galway. With her degree, network and global experience, she was able to land a job as community and media manager at Ashoka Changemakers, a Washington-based nonprofit that encourages social entrepreneurship.

Casey Shea

Casey Shea (BS08), who won the El Pomar Fellowship for leadership training, is now the director of outreach for Great Education Colorado. As a fellow she gained hands-on experience in a variety of areas in the nonprofit sector, and “received ongoing coaching and a solid background in leadership theory and non-profit management.” She enjoyed working in the Communications Office, where she built partners for a fundraising campaign and reviewed grants. “Throughout my time at El Pomar, I was encouraged and supported to pursue my professional interest in education policy,” she says.

Now at Great Education, she says, “I've had the unique opportunity to work with grassroots education supporters around Colorado to help them develop the tools to advocate for Colorado students at the ballot box, in the legislature and in the courts.” She is supports work in Colorado on state education finance reform and says she has learned immensely through researching, strategizing, and executing education and advocacy plans for two state fiscal policy initiatives. 

“I'm thankful for the foundational knowledge and practical grounding that SESP helped me develop. It has served me well in being selected for the El Pomar Fellowship and in my work since undergrad.”

Stacy Pancratz

Stacy Pancratz (BS09) spent 15 months in Morocco for her Fulbright fellowship, studying Arabic intensively for the first six months and then doing a research project on entrepreneurship for the last nine months. She vividly recalls the highlights of her stay, such as living in a 15th-century house in the old section of the city with original tiling and woodwork. “I learned my way through the narrow, windy streets in my neighborhood and chatted daily in colloquial Arabic to the store owners nearby. Another highlight was organizing a spring break English camp for a group of 60 middle school students,” she says. Pancratz’s blog about her fellowship experience may be accessed at http://stacypancratz.blogspot.com/.

With the international research experience she acquired during her fellowship year, she recently landed a position with a non-governmental organizational called Innovations for Poverty Action. She will run survey data collection efforts in southern Malawi for a research project called Incentives to Save and Work. “The hiring managers there were impressed that I had had field research experience in Morocco — the Fulbright had given me a unique opportunity, and I believe it opened doors to other international experiences like the IPA position,” she says.

Tatiana Rostovtseva (BS09) won an American India Foundation fellowship for work in India, and as a Clinton Service Corps fellow, she worked with the Rishi Valley Institute for Educational Resources to design student-centered English curricular materials and train teachers. That work gave her background to transition to jobs as a partner relations representative at a software development company and a content specialist for a Rwanda education project.

Sam Schiller (BS09) won an environmental fellowship that launched him in his career in renewable energy. As a Udall Scholar for the Environment, he was a research assistant in energy policy for the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. Now he works for two “sister startups” that develop renewable energy projects in the Midwest. “My main focus has been the development of a 60MW wind energy project in central Michigan and several pollution prevention projects at abandoned coal mines in Southern Illinois and Indiana,” he says. He is also a founding co-chair of the Emerging Leaders board for Delta Institute, an environmental and economic development organization based in Chicago. He’s proud that through Delta he helped launch the BOOST fund, a platform for investing in local sustainable enterprises.

Keenya Hofmaier

Keenya Hofmaier (BS10) was named a Gates Millennium Scholar at Northwestern, and she also won the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to study public health in South Africa. Now she is a New York Teaching Fellow working with autistic children as she earns her master’s degree in special education. She is also Miss Black Arkansas USA, a delegate for Miss Black USA 2012. Her official platform is autism awareness in support of Autism Speaks, which is dedicated to funding global biomedical research on autism and raising awareness of the disorder. Hofmaier currently serves as celebrity advocate to Arkansas Autism Speaks, and she is seeking sponsors for her participation in nationals.

Alexandra Sims (BS10) received leadership training as part of her Coro Fellowship. Now she serves as director of operations at Jamaa Learning Center in Chicago. She says her passion for social policy was "founded in experience with community development and grassroots organizing."

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 12/9/15