More than 50 fellows have been placed for the upcoming year. See the program website for a current list of all fellowship placements here. Princeton Project 55 Fellowships are made possible by passionate area committees and local volunteers, generous donors, and highly effective partner organizations. Thank you for your shared effort.
Julie Rubinger ’09 recently accepted the position of Area Coordinator for the San Francisco Bay Area region of the AlumniCorps community. Julie is currently a PP55 fellow at NewSchools Venture Fund in San Francisco, CA and was a fellow at Education Through Music in New York, NY from 2010-2011.
In the following interview, Julie talks about her PP55 Fellowship experience and explains why she decided to take on a more active role in the AlumniCorps community.
Share a bit about your PP55 Fellowship Program experience: What inspired you to become a fellow? What kind of work have you been doing?
My senior year at Princeton coincided with the Obama presidential campaign, and it was a very exciting time on campus. Politics aside, Obama’s campaign empowered students like me to believe that we can make a difference in society. I knew that as a first step in my career, I wanted to work for a social cause. The Project 55 Fellowship program provided exactly what I was looking for, and I feel very fortunate to have been placed at Education Through Music in New York City, where I helped with their fundraising efforts. At Education Through Music, I gained exposure to the public education landscape in New York City, and worked with impressive individuals at a well-run, highly impactful organization. After two years there, I moved to San Francisco but stayed within the AlumniCorps community to join the development team at NewSchools Venture Fund. Here, I’m working on building a community of investors and raising philanthropic dollars so that we can support innovative entrepreneurs around the country who are improving public education for low-income students. It was a huge change moving from New York City to San Francisco, but I immediately fell in love with the Bay Area. The welcome I received from the Princeton community, as well as my supportive colleagues at NewSchools, helped me acclimate quickly to the new city, new job, and new life in San Francisco.
What motivated you to become the San Francisco Bay Area Coordinator?
I was involved in the New York Area Committee during my second year in New York City, and I really enjoyed working with others on the committee to support the fellows and give them a great experience. I had great mentors in New York, such as Chet Safian ’55, whose service to the fellowship program I found very inspiring. The AlumniCorps community in San Francisco is smaller, but I quickly learned that there are many phenomenal Princeton alumni here in the Bay Area that are doing really interesting work, and are eager to mentor and support the fellows. Next year, I am excited to involve more alums in the activities and programs of the fellowship program, and help give the fellows a great all-around experience.
More than 140 candidates were interviewed for Project 55 fellowships this year between January 5 and 17. We would like to extend our gratitude to all of our alumni interviewers for coming to Princeton and sharing their enthusiasm and experience with applicants.
We would like to extend a special thank you to former PP55 fellows Eloise Salmon ’07 and Whitney Williams ’09. Eloise and Whitney learned the details of all of our partner organizations and locations to serve as lead interviewers. They each directed seven interviews a day for three consecutive days and their active role greatly contributed to the interview process this year.
In addition to Eloise and Whitney, 24 alumni and volunteers participated in interviews this year, including four Board members, seven former fellows, and ten current fellows.
On November 8, Princeton AlumniCorps and the Princeton Club of Philadelphia collaborated to organize a panel discussion on education reform in Philadelphia. Katie Thaeder ’09 introduced the panel. The panel featured Dr. Leroy Nunery, the acting CEO and Superintendent of the Philadelphia school district; Marc Mannella, CEO of KIPP Philadelphia; Edward Mensah, Director of Steppingstone Scholars; Alyson Goodner ’00, founder of The School Collective; and Matt Troha, Principal of Mastery Turnaround School Thomas Campus. The panel was moderated by Rosalind Echols ’05, a high school teacher at the Science Leadership Academy.
Speaking from their experience as leaders and educators within the Philadelphia school system, the panelists identified key challenges and opportunities for reform within this historically under-achieving school district. Questions and topics addressed included: how can Philadelphia attract the best teachers and keep them? How can teachers from charter, public, and private schools collaborate to ensure that they are using the most innovative and effective learning techniques? How does the School District work most effectively with the Teachers Union? How do we provide a quality public education with limited funding that continues to be cut?
The overall message of the evening was that while the challenges facing the Philadelphia’s educational system are difficult, they are not insurmountable. As demonstrated by the panel, there are many dedicated educators and reformers who are committed to improving classrooms and making sure Philadelphia’s students are college-ready and are prepared for life in our new global system.
By Joseph Sengoba ’10, 2011-2012 Project 55 Fellow and Katherine Chatelaine, Project 55 Fellowship Program Assistant
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!