I was a PP55 fellow in NYC many years ago and worked at an organization called the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship. I was there for four years(!) and it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. The Watson Fellowship (www.jkwatson.org) is a program for undergraduate students here in the city that was – in large part – modeled after PP55. One of the big differences was that the colleges that were invited to participate are many of the institutions that educate low-income, first generation college students. For many students, it helped to clarify a steady, productive, meaningful career path. It’s made an enormous difference. Chet Safian played an important role in helping us develop materials, selection processes, internship sites for our students – anything and everything. That program is now more than ten years old, and has its own really wonderful and diverse alumni.
I left the Watson Fellowship and went to work at a research institute at NYU for six years. As I was leaving, I came across an open position at the Colin Powell Center which involved directing several scholarship programs for students interested in public service. During my interview, the director of the Center acknowledged that the Powell fellowships had, themselves, been modeled after the Watson fellowship. So in roundabout way, I’ve come full circle. I’m sure you all have a sense of how wide your impact has been on individual fellows like myself, and on colleges involved in TAN – but here’s yet another example of PP55’s wide-reaching influence. It’s a model that travels well, and that works. I know I’m now three times grateful for the leadership PP55 has taken in this field – and I know I’m not the only one.
It goes without saying (I hope) that if I can be helpful in ANY way, please feel free to let me know. I have a lot to be grateful for.
To ensure more PP55 experiences like Kamilah’s, visit www.alumnicorps.org and click the Donate button. Every little bit counts!