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December 12, 2019   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Q&A: Fellowship offers student cultural opportunities

College provides numerous opportunities for students to explore the world around them. With countless study abroad programs and travel opportunities, it is possible for students to travel the world long before graduation. One such opportunity is the Killam Fellowship Program. 

The Killam Fellowship Program is an undergraduate exchange program sponsored by universities in the United States and Canada. The program allows students from the U.S. and Canada to spend either a semester or a school year at a college in the other country. The program awards every fellow $5,000 per semester. 15 institutions in the U.S. partner with the program, including Ithaca College. Junior Stephanie Mooney was accepted into the fellowship for the spring semester. Mooney will travel to Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.

Alumni who are accepted into the program are eligible for enrichment opportunities like the Local Ambassador Program, the Killam Community Action Initiative and the Fulbright Canada Alumni Internship Program. These programs are selective. For example, the Local Ambassador Program is designed to give 15 Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumni the chance to be representatives for the Fulbright program.

Life & Culture Editor Avery Alexander spoke with Mooney about her experience through the application process and her reasons for applying to the program.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Avery Alexander: Why did you apply for the fellowship?

Stephanie Mooney: I was looking for study abroad options where I could study at a full-on university instead of an American center abroad. … Mainly I wanted to apply for it because my major at Ithaca is cultural communication. I have to declare or design a concentration of classes that I’m interested in, and a lot of classes I want to take around global development studies … are at Queen’s University.

AA: Can you go into detail about what anyone interested in the Killam Fellowship would have to do to get accepted?

SM: You have to have a solid plan and purpose. You have to write a statement letter saying … “Why this university? What will you be gaining out of it, more so than just academically?” … You have to choose three [affiliated universities] and rank them first choice, second choice and third choice. And for each university, you have to go through and map out what classes you would hope to take at each university, so there’s a lot of planning. … You have to make sure you have a few letters of recommendation. But I would say the most … important part of the application is your statement purpose which is 500 words describing where you’ve been in your academic journey, what classes you’re taking, where you hope to be and how the opportunity provided with a Killam Fellowship will get you there and how it will be important … moving forward.

AA: What do you hope to achieve with the knowledge you learn with the fellowship outside academia?

SM: That’s a question I think a lot about. … I don’t really have a concrete vision of something I see myself doing, and that just kind of comes with my major. … I know what I like, things that I’m interested in and things that inspire me and push me forward. So I hope for a career that I’m working towards, I get to … have a seat at the table talking about issues I care about or things that inspire me. … So something that I’m really excited for this year is having this opportunity to study. … When I come back, I’ll have a more narrow scope and focus.

AA: Besides academia, what are you most excited about going to Canada for a semester?

SM: I’m so excited about a lot of things, but I think what I’m most excited about is to live more independently than I do at Ithaca. … I’m excited to experience something new and learn from that … for that energy and experience and learning process of it all.