Two USM students, Daniel Gay and Mary Anne Klement, became two of only 25 students nationwide to earn a fellowship that will give them $30,000 for graduate school. Klement and Gay competed with students from other colleges including Yale University, Brown University, Duke College and New York University.
The Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color, one of several funded by the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund is highly competitive. It provides opportunities for post-graduate education to students of color who intend to teach. USM was one of 29 college and universities nationwide that competed for this year’s slots.
Klement, a senior English major, said she was “ecstatic” upon hearing she had won the fellowship. “It was really affirming [of] everything I have done [at USM],” she said.
Klement said she will be staying at USM for her graduate degree, entering the Extended Teacher Education Program. She said she would like to teach English and Literary Studies in Maine after graduation.
The fellowship is a blessing for Klement, who said she won’t have to work during grad school because of the fellowship.
Klement said she will be ready to teach in nine months to a year. The program has an intensive option that allows students to get a Master of Science in Education in only nine months.
Daniel Gay, a senior theater major with a minor in English, said he plans on teaching either elementary school or English for Speakers of Other Languages. He said he hopes to use his background in theater to give students a more interactive education. “In my experience you learn better with hands-on activities,” he said.
Gay said he was excited upon hearing he had won the fellowship. “I won’t have to worry about paying for school, accruing more loans or finding another way to pay for school,” he said.
Gay said that, like Klement, he also intends to continue his education in Extended Teacher Education Program at USM.
The Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund fund was established in 1992 in order to help abate the shortage in the United States of teachers of color.
According to the foundation’s website, current trends indicate that within the next decade teachers of color will account for only 5 percent of the total teaching force, while the percentage of students of color in the public school system will be over 50 percent. The foundation’s website said its concern is that nationwide, students of color often have low graduation rates. The group’s mission statement says that a larger percentage of educators of color will lead to a higher percentage of students of color graduating high school. According to the statement, research shows that students of color perform better when taught by teachers from their own ethnic groups.
Since its inception the fellowship has aided over 21,000 educators and awarded nearly $8,000,000 in grants between 1992 and 2008.