“What do you want to do when you grow up?” Students hear this question frequently growing up and begin to hear it that much louder during college. Discerning a career is a huge decision, but Christendom offers many opportunities for students to be successful in this process. For those interested in continuing their academic studies, the college now has a director of fellowship advising, helping students work toward the prestigious Fulbright fellowship and others in their quest for success.
This year, several Christendom students and recent alumni have already applied for Fulbright English teaching assistantships in foreign countries, such as the Slovak Republic and Georgia. The Fulbright fellowship is a U.S. State Department program that encourages international exchange by funding a year abroad for U.S. citizens, either as English teaching assistants or through formal academic study. The possibilities for career growth are numerous, making the fellowship both exciting and difficult to attain. Regardless, senior Shane McCrum is one of this year’s applicants, working hard to attain his dream.
This past summer, McCrum completed an internship at the National Defense University, where he met a number of high-level Georgian military officials. His internship experience only further sparked his interest in a career in international relations, in which he already had pursued coursework at Christendom. Knowing that Georgia and the surrounding region is one of the world’s current hotspots for U.S. national interest, McCrum eagerly approached history professor and director of fellowship advising Dr. Christopher Lane for advice on his next steps. As a result, McCrum is now a Fulbright applicant, who sees spending a year in Georgia as a Fulbright fellow as a crucial step forward in his career goals.
During the application process for these types of fellowships, students are interviewed by a Christendom faculty panel, who determine if a candidate will get a campus endorsement, while offering helpful feedback to improve their applications in order to make them the best possible candidate.
“Whatever you’re applying for, as you brainstorm your application, you have to figure out an argument for why you are the best candidate for a fellowship,” says Lane. “How does that opportunity fit into my story? We help students answer these questions, assisting them in the application process while also helping them crystallize what they want to do with their careers after college.”
For Lane, applying for a fellowship is an important achievement, for a student may find other opportunities due to the application process, or simply finetune their personal career goals. Such an event happened for Lane, when he did not win the Fulbright but discovered and won another fellowship that allowed him to study in France for a year. Other Christendom graduates have had similar experiences, including 2018 graduate Theresa Norris. Named a Fulbright semifinalist, though not a finalist, her experience applying for the fellowship helped her discover her desire to teach English overseas, leading her to her current job as an English teacher in China.
Lane has many resources as director of fellowship advising to help students in this journey, thanks to his membership in the National Association of Fellowships Advisors. Due to his association with the group, he has discovered other fellowship opportunities as well, including the Critical Language Scholarship program. CLS sends students on a summer-long study-abroad opportunity in another country, where they learn a new language and are immersed in a culture. Several students have applied this year, with the goal of taking part in CLS next summer.
There are so many opportunities available for Christendom students, and, by having Lane as the director of fellowship advising, they have a better chance than ever to earn one of these prestigious fellowships.
“It’s a pedagogical process, helping students make an argument for themselves as fellowship scholars. Seeing them grow through the process is one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had as a Christendom professor, and I hope to see many more students seek these fellowships in the future.”