The Foundation Fellowship is the University of Georgia’s premier undergraduate scholarship, and while the academic, research and travel experiences it provides are unprecedented, the connections formed among the Fellows is what sets this scholarship apart.
“I really like to describe it as a community of scholars, leaders and friends — of people who will encourage their fellow students and friends to be the best that they can be,” said Eytan Palte, a senior majoring in international affairs while also pursuing a pre-med track.
Fellows are awarded a stipend that approximates the cost of attendance, and they are guided by dedicated faculty, administrators and senior mentors who foster an atmosphere of fellowship through group travel, seminars and cultural experiences.
Travel is a major component of the Foundation Fellowship and begins freshman year with a spring group travel-study to Washington, D.C., and New York City, followed by a Maymester study abroad program at Oxford University in England. Recent study abroad and internship destinations for Fellows have included South Korea, Cuba, India, Switzerland, Turkey, France, Bali, Italy, Morocco and many other locations across America and around the globe.
“It’s a great opportunity to see the world and do things that you’re interested in,” said Gabrielle Pierre, a Foundation Fellow from Kingston, Jamaica, and a junior majoring in environmental engineering while also pursuing a master’s degree in environmental planning and design. Over the summer, Pierre completed a nine-week design internship in San Miguel, Panama, where she worked to build a sustainable tunnel in the Kalu Yala community.
Through the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, Fellows get a chance to explore a variety of research interests and forge lasting connections with faculty mentors. Foundation Fellows publish their results in the university’s Journal for Undergraduate Research Opportunities and often in peer-reviewed journals. Foundation Fellowship grants enable them to present their findings at national and international conferences.
“A lot of professors were very open to invite me into their labs, or even talk to me about their research, just because they knew what the fellowship entailed and how driven and motivated these students are,” said Karishma Sriram, a senior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology with plans to attend medical school in the fall.
The University of Georgia Foundation’s trustees established the Foundation Fellowship as part of the university’s Honors Program in 1972 with the intention of bringing promising, elite students to UGA. Graduates of the program have earned some of the world’s most prestigious academic honors including the Rhodes, Schwarzman, Marshall, Goldwater, Truman and Udall scholarships.
Although the students have their own special memories from UGA, the themes of fellowship and personal growth continuously surface as they share their stories.
“Through a lot of experiences that we’re able to have in the Fellowship, you get to be around these awesome people who challenge you and stretch you,” said Jonah Driggers, a junior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in geography and a master’s degree in conservation ecology and sustainable development.
“It’s a diverse community and people think differently — people come from different backgrounds and cultures and experiences than you — and you get to interact with all those people, and that makes you better,” he said.