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UR Summer Fellowships totaling at least 230 this year

Published: February 13, 2013, 11:15 am ET
Collegian Reporter

The University of Richmond administrators anticipate giving out at least 230 UR Summer Fellowships this year to support undergraduates in their internships and research, said Katybeth Lee, the university’s internship program manager.

The awards range from $2,400 to $4,000 per student, Lee said, depending on the number of hours that the student will spend working with the research or internship program. The university has a total of $1 million to award to students across all seven of the UR Summer Fellowship programs, Lee said.

“The way that students spend their summers matters so much,” Lee said. “It’s a place for you to try on what you are learning in the classroom in the world of work.”

It is very important to the University of Richmond staff that students, regardless of their financial background, have the ability to try various organization and research opportunities during the summer, Lee said. This helps students make decisions, including whether they want to go to graduate school or what type of company they are looking for.

Senior LaShonda Hanna received university funds last summer, allowing her to stay in Richmond and commute to her internship with Rubicon in Highland Park. Hanna extended the community service component of her Poverty and Political Voice class and turned her service into a summer internship.

She learned about substance abuse in low-income communities and worked with clients in group counseling sessions, she said. Without having received the funds, Hanna would not have been able to stay in Richmond and afford transportation to the internship site, she said.

“It really grants you the experience that you want when you don’t have to worry about money,” Hanna said.

A lot of companies are now using internships as an interview, Lee said. The summer can be a mutually beneficial trial period, she said.

“We are looking at this initiative as an extension of the classroom and a way for students of all backgrounds to have really transformational experiences in the summer,” Lee said.

This year, she anticipates giving out 50 more fellowships than in 2012, Lee said. The additional money has been raised from university alumni, parents and friends, she said.

These funds will support three research and four internship programs through Career Services, the School of Arts and Sciences, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement and the chaplaincy. Students can apply for as many of these programs as they are eligible, but can only receive funds from one, Lee said.

The deadline for the research programs is Monday, Feb. 11, and applicants will be notified of the university’s decision on March 8. The deadline for internship programs is Wednesday, March 20, and the announcement date for these programs is April 1.

Funding and finding your internship site are parallel processes, Lee said. If you receive funding from the university, it does not come with an internship site.

Students are encouraged to work with career advisers to identify internships to apply for, Lee said. Even if students have not heard back from the places where they applied to intern, they can still receive funding, Lee said.

Any student with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 is eligible to apply for Spider Internship Funds, an internship program run by the staff at Career Services.

“For Spider Internship Funds, we want to see students making a good case for how their experience will inform their academic and career goals,” Lee said.

Junior Margot Hillyer received a research fellowship from the university last summer, which allowed her to stay in Richmond and work with Michael Leopold, associate professor of chemistry. Hillyer worked forty hours a week, she said.

“To combine my interests in children’s health, global health and medicine and Dr. Leopold’s interests and expertise in analytical chemistry, we tested children’s toys,” Hillyer said.

If Hillyer had not received the UR Summer Fellowship, she probably would not have been able to stay in Richmond over the summer, she said. It is likely that she would have done research somewhere closer to her home, she said, which would have broken up the research she had completed throughout the school year.

“What I could get done during a week of summer research might take me the whole semester during the school year,” Hillyer said. “Being able to dedicate that much time and energy and having a mentor allowed me to make so much progress.”

Applications should be submitted via SpiderConnect. For more information, students should look on the summer fellowships website, Lee said.

“The funds allow you to dream in a way that a lot of people who are not financially independent haven’t been able to do before,” Lee said. “I hope that students will come in and meet with career advisors to develop their strategies to find internships, and then apply for the funding to make it possible.”

Contact reporter Megan Haggerty at

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