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Bonderman Fellowship

The Bonderman Fellowship offers 4 graduating LSA seniors $20,000 to travel the world. They must travel to at least 6 countries in 2 regions over the course of 8 months and are expected to immerse themselves in independent and enriching explorations. Bonderman Fellows engage with cultures, people, and areas of the world with which they are not familiar, providing an opportunity to develop entirely new perspectives.

UM is 1 of only 2 schools—along with the University of Washington—to offer the Bonderman award. Fellows make their own travel itineraries and, because this is meant to be an individual experience, cannot engage in formal study at a foreign university, conduct formal research, or travel with a guest or organized group for longer than 10 days.

To keep up with the Fellows during their travels, follow us on the NEW Bonderman blogFacebookInstagram or Snapchat!

The 2019-2020 Bonderman Fellowship Recipients

Claire Borchers, International Studies and Spanish major, Ross School of Business minor

“Pursuing Bonderman also represented my determination to more fully engage with what I've studied - as an International Studies/Spanish double major, I had always planned to study abroad long-term. But I found myself in a bit of a catch-22; competing for Michigan’s Track and Cross Country teams would come to mean that leaving Ann Arbor wasn't feasible. I was also drawn to the independent and boundless nature of Bonderman. For a long time, my life has been dictated by academics and athletics, realms that offer consistent community and require subscribing to a considerable degree of structure. I’m grateful for how it has shaped me as a person, but I’m drawn to the freedom and independence of Bonderman for what it can teach me about myself and the world.”


Abigail Kennedy, Philosophy major, Business Administration minor
“I know that this fellowship will be one of the most challenging adventures I'll go on in my young adult life. I hope that throughout this journey I will become a stronger, wiser, and more independent person. I also hope to become more open-minded about the world and more inspired to make it a better place. Bonderman, for me, is an opportunity to begin in a new direction. For much of my life I had created a plan for myself that was safe and expected. I still have the same end-goal, of working in international law and on humanitarian projects, but Bonderman gives me the chance to re-think my path for getting there. If I truly want to make an impact on the world, I ought to get out there and start learning about it."


Tariq Mekkaoui, Biomolecular Science major, English minor
"My view is limited to my experiences at University of Michigan. With the experiences in towing intersectionality of identity, I understand that cultures and people carry complex identities, but I am lacking in the insight of a global outlook on identity. As stated on the Bonderman Fellowship website, 'Fellows will engage with cultures, people, and areas of the world with which they are not familiar, providing an opportunity to develop a new global outlook on life'. Understanding that there are people with experiences I do not understand is what excited me about the Bonderman Fellowship. As a Bonderman Fellow, I hope to learn from others about culture, people, and life."


Bronte Munson, Psychology major
“During my time at Michigan, both in the classroom and out, I’ve since been exposed to a variety of perspectives, beliefs, and different life experiences. This has been humbling and exciting and has taught me more than I could have imagined about myself and the world I’m part of. I applied to Bonderman, because it was an opportunity to continue growing, learning, and exploring on the global scale, in the unique way only solo travel allows. As a psychology major, I’m fascinated by others. I’m most looking forward to the many people, fellow travellers and locals alike, I will have the opportunity to connect and converse with, and surely learn from.”


All of the Bonderman Fellows for 2019-2020 will officially depart in August 2019. 


The 2018-2019 Bonderman Fellowship Recipients

Shruti Arora, Neuroscience and Evolutionary Anthropology major: During my time at U-M, I have been fostering my love of science, especially though my research in neuropsychiatric disease, specifically Bipolar Disorder. Science is my first love and I hope in whatever I end up doing, I will help bridge the gap between science and the public to help create a more informed community. I think an education is the greatest gift I have been given and I want to help ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to receive the same. When I am not in the lab, I do enjoying reading and try to do so whenever possible. I also love being outdoors (Michigan weather permitting). I am excited to explore some new hobbies on the Bonderman Fellowship, such as my budding interest in photography. 

Ivyanne Augustine, English and German major: During my first year, I joined Nerdfighters at UM, which, contrary to what the name might lead you to believe, is not some kind of freaks n’ geeks fight club. It’s actually a nerdy social club that also does work with local charities, and I’m happy to say I served as its president for about three years. Some of the students in that group were fans of Starkid and decided to put on A Very Potter Musical, which lead to the formation of another student organization, NERDS (Not Even Really Drama Students) in 2016. NERDS is an amateur theatre group that produces a musical once per semester. From the script, to the music, to the actors themselves, NERDS productions are entirely generated by students. I’ve acted in three musicals and was the lead in one. This year, I researched and wrote my English Honors thesis, which was one of the most difficult but also the most rewarding endeavors of my undergraduate career. In addition to academic writing, a creative nonfiction essay of mine is part of the anthology Social Class Voices: Student Stories from the University of Michigan Bicentennial and one of my poems is featured in this year’s issue of Xylem Literary Magazine. It’s the first time my creative work has been published, but hopefully not the last.

Chetali Jain, Microbiology major and Writing minor: As shocking and scandalous, strange and confusing as it sounds for a Bonderman recipient to say this, I like trying new things. Coming from Novi, MI, I saw college as an opportunity to do this. I wore many different hats (ironically, I can’t pull off wearing actual hats due to my head shape): Sweetland Peer Writing Consultant, reporter and news editor for The Michigan Daily, EMT and professional ER minion, researcher at Yale Medical School, strictly “for fun” guitar busker, mushroom forager for my EEB class – the list goes on in a similarly eclectic fashion. Keeping busy and opting for the less obvious, more labyrinthine route has enriched and eternalized my time; I expect my Bonderman travels to be both a continuation and an entirely new version of this exploration.  

Alexis JonesBiochemistry major and Latin Language & Literature minor: Throughout my time at the University of Michigan, I have been involved in a number of extracurricular activities. My freshman year I walked onto the Women’s Rowing Team as a coxswain. The rowing team has become my second family and has taught me about commitment, time management, and what it means to be a part of something bigger than myself. As a junior, I served as the coxswain for the 2nd Varsity 8+, which placed third at the NCAA Championships—definitely a highlight of my college career. I am also involved in Greek Life and served as Vice President of Programming for the Panhellenic Association in 2017. After the Bonderman Fellowship, I hope to pursue medical school and one day become a surgeon.