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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.

2019 - 2020 Application will open in Fall 2018.

The 2017-2018 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.

2017-2018 Bonderman Recipients

Ji Ye, Earth and Environmental Science Major: "I like to think of myself as an adventurer. I believe in dreaming big and going all out. We are all capable of extraordinary feats and deserving of a kind and spectacular life. The moments I value, the ones that flood my mind and fill my lungs, are those in which I find myself marveling at the world and its people. I seek purpose and hope to share happiness. The Bonderman fellowship offers me the opportunity to take all that my education has taught me and break the limits. On the Bonderman, I will find my way from here by learning from others who are making their own way, however and wherever that may be."

Martin Jamal Jenkins, Biomolecular Science major: "I see the opportunity of being the next Bonderman Fellow as an adventure, externally, and more importantly, internally. Internal adventure or self-discovery is something that is very important to me because we use core values to connect with others. I am intrigued by the endeavor of traveling without companionship because in theory, we are never truly alone. Even though the relationships I will make abroad may or may not be temporary, I welcome the opportunity to learn from each person that I meet along the way. Despite physical, cultural, and geographical differences, people of varying backgrounds can forge a common understanding through building and approaching the world with an open mind."

Stephen Dowker, Neuroscience major: "Being born at the University of Michigan Hospital, growing up in Ann Arbor, and now graduating from the University of Michigan, I have had a lot of advantages. I spent a long time learning about the world in classrooms and enjoying pseudo-cultural experiences from the safety of my hometown. But to me all of these lessons are just tiny samples of something much bigger, something that can only be understood by immersing myself in the worldview of other peoples. In the same way that participating in research solidifies material learned in the classroom, I believe that travel solidifies cultural understanding. Never having really left this city, I know I have a lot to learn in this regard, but I am confident that this fellowship and the world itself will be great teachers."

Kelly O’Donnel, Psychology major: “I've always had dreams of travel and worldwide exploration, but assumed that my resource limitations rendered those aspirations impossible. I worked 50-hour weeks, joined every extracurricular, pushed myself in academics, and drove myself nearly insane with clinical psychology graduate applications to continue on the stringent path I thought was my only option; until I was given the opportunity of a Bonderman Fellowship. I immediately rescinded my PhD acceptance offer, and am fully embracing every unexpected turn I now face. While traveling, I hope to broaden my limited worldview, gain perspective into cross-cultural perceptions of mental illness, and to achieve insight that will promote future research into pediatric trauma response in underdeveloped nations."