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W&M announces postgraduate community engagement fellowships

There’s a new opportunity in town for recent and soon-to-be William & Mary grads interested in serving the Williamsburg community.

Starting this year, four William & Mary Community Engagement Fellowships will be awarded to graduates interested in dedicating at least one year of full-time service in the Greater Williamsburg area, the Office of Community Engagement announced recently.

The fellowships, offered in partnership with the Aspen Institute and the Franklin Project, will give graduates a year of practical experience in non-profit work as a career. The four fellowships will be offered in health and nutrition, alternative breaks and health literacy, education and citizen engagement, with each fellow reporting to a different community engagement staff member.

“I can think of no university better positioned than William & Mary to be a leader in championing the Franklin Project's national service initiative,” said Ginger Amber, vice president for student affairs. “Designed to give recent graduates hands-on, full-time experience working in the non-profit sector, these fellowships reflect our deep commitment to educating citizen leaders for the 21st century — leaders who will make a difference by studying, understanding and working to address the key issues and challenges of our time.”

William & Mary signed on as a lead institution for the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project last June during the 21st Century National Service Summit in Aspen, Colo. W&M President Taylor Reveley and Drew Stelljes, assistant vice president for student engagement and leadership, represented the university at the two-day event where William & Mary became one of only five universities committing to challenge young adults to devote one year to full-time service work.

“Upon returning to campus, we went to work to consider how to unite the pressing needs of community with the intellectual might of our college and the passion of our students,” Stelljes said.

“The first phase is to establish the William & Mary Community Engagement Fellowships. The program will enlist the talent of four outstanding and dedicated graduates in service to the community, each with specific position descriptions and each working to meet pressing local needs,” he added.

The fellowships are a product of the Office of Community Engagement’s close relationship with community organizations throughout Williamsburg and the Peninsula region. Each of the four fellowships is tailored to a specific need in the communities surrounding William & Mary.

“We designed these positions by talking to partners in the community about what capacity they need to help meet their goals, and how a smart, hardworking William & Mary alum could be of help in that,” said Melody Porter, associate director of community engagement and advisor to the alternative breaks and health literacy fellowship, offering her fellowship as an example.

“The Branch Out & Adult Health Literacy fellow will help Branch Out ensure strong community benefit in our alternative breaks, and bolster the good work of Literacy for Life and outreach on the Eastern Shore, so that our neighbors will have the tools they need to make wise decisions for their health and their families,” she said.

Graduating seniors and alumni interested in applying for a community engagement fellowship are encouraged to attend one of two optional information sessions, one at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 in the Sadler Center James Room, the other at 5 p.m. on March 17 in the Cohen Career Center Presentation Room. Once selected, the fellows will begin their year of service on Aug. 1, 2014.

Community engagement staff members are already excited to begin working with the fellows.

“I'm looking forward to welcoming more William & Mary alumni into our office,” said Elizabeth Miller ’11, coordinator of community engagement. “As an alumna myself who began my professional time at the College through a year of service, it’s very exciting to welcome others into that experience. Serving with and through William & Mary is a really meaningful way to keep building a relationship with the College and our community.”

For more information on the William & Mary Community Engagement Fellowships, visit the Office of Community Engagement website or contact Drew Stelljes.