Northern graduates receive fellowship

Shana Schmitt

Two recent graduates from Northern Michigan University were selected to join 90 other fellows in receiving the prestigious and highly competitive W.K. Kellogg-Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship.

Maureen Donegan graduated with her second degree from NMU this spring with her master’s degree in psychology. Andrea Ewasak graduated with her bachelor’s in biology and her minor in psychology this spring.

The fellowship provides students with a $30,000 stipend to attend a special intensive master’s program offered at only six universities in Michigan. Donegan will be continuing her learning at Michigan State University and Ewasak at Wayne State University.

“I’ve already started taking my classes and doing in-class observations,” said Donegan.

As part of the fellowship they will then put their skills into practice by teaching at an inner city or rural school this fall. Donegan will be doing her student teaching at a public school in Detroit.

“Fellows in this first class will begin their master’s work this summer, and by fall 2012 will be eligible to teach in their own secondary-school classrooms,” said Beverly Sanford, vice president of communications for the fellowship foundation.

The fellowship is designed to offer a new way of instructing future educators. Most education programs focus on many hours in class culminating with a student teaching experience. This program, however, is not like most because fellows spend a majority of their time in the classroom, similar to how future doctors and attorneys train for their professions.

“Two keys goals are to attract excellent candidates with strong STEM backgrounds into teaching and to prepare them to teach in high need schools,” said Sanford.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These are the four areas in which underprivileged schools suffer the most.

The Michigan fellowship began in late 2009, but is actually part of a larger national fellowship in which Ohio and Indiana are also a part of. A grant of $18 million from the Kellogg Foundation enabled the fellowship to begin in Michigan.

Any individuals with strong STEM backgrounds are eligible to apply for the fellowship. According to the Woodrow Wilson teaching fellowship website, there are five main requirements to be eligible.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree, show commitment to the program, have a strong background in the STEM fields, be a United States citizen or permanent resident and have a 3.0 or higher GPA. Those interested in applying don’t have to be recent graduates as long as they have a bachelor’s degree.

“The fellowship is in fact a very competitive program; in this year’s inaugural class, most of the fellows had been honors graduates in their undergrad work, or had been named multiple times to the dean’s list, and more than one in three had a GPA higher than 3.5,” Sanford said.

The W.K. Kellogg foundation was created in 1930 to protect, nurture and support opportunities for children. Kellogg’s goal in creating the foundation was to, “help children face the future with confidence, with health, and with a strong-rooted security in the trust of this country and its institutions.”

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation was founded in 1945 originally to provide students the chance to attain doctoral degrees to begin teaching college directly after World War II.

Today, the foundation focuses mainly on closing “the pervasive achievement gap between Americans, by race and income.”

It is the foundations goal to provide great teachers to children so that they, too, may choose to go into education field.

“I hope to improve science education in urban schools and give disadvantaged students more opportunities in life,” said Donegan.

Those interested in applying for the next fellowship can find that information at www.wwteachingfellowship.org. Early submissions are encouraged, with more details to follow in June 2011. Donegan encourages graduates from Northern in the stem fields to apply.