ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Four graduating University of Michigan Seniors from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts were notified of their selection as Bonderman Fellows, a prestigious program at U-M that attracts talented, innovative, and ambitious scholars who are eager to experience intercultural realities around the globe.

The Bonderman Fellowship offers graduating LSA seniors $20,000 to travel the world. They must travel to six countries in two regions of their choosing over the course of eight months and are expected to immerse themselves in independent and enriching explorations. The idea behind this program is to give the graduating seniors an opportunity to engage with people from various cultures, which will allow them to see the world from a new perspective.

“The Bonderman is unique in that it is entirely self-directed: the Fellows plan their own itinerary and travel independently for eight months, subject to both serendipitous encounters and the vicissitudes of life on the road,” CGIS Director Michael Jordan said. “There is no blueprint for a Bonderman Fellowship. As the Spanish poet Antonio Machado wrote, ‘Caminante, no hay camino, / se hace camino al andar (Walker, there is no path, / the path is made in walking).’”

After graduating from Harvard Law School in the 1960’s, David Bonderman traveled internationally as a Sheldon Fellow and that experience shaped the rest of his life. He created the Bonderman Travel Fellowship in 1995 to provide students with a similar opportunity. In 2014, Bonderman’s daughter, LSA alumna Samantha Holloway (A.B. ’03), and her husband, Gregory (A.B. ’02), created the Bonderman Fellowship in LSA’s Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS). The University of Michigan is one of two schools, along with the University of Washington, to offer the Fellowship. 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.

Meet the 2017–18 CGIS Bonderman Fellows

Center for Global and Intercultural Study (CGIS) is proud to announce Stephen Dowker, Martin Jamal Jenkins, Kelly O’Donnel, and Ji Ye as the 2017-2018 Bonderman Fellows.

“I've always had dreams of travel and worldwide exploration, but assumed that my resource limitations rendered those aspirations impossible,” Psychology major Kelly O’Donnel said. “I drove myself nearly insane with clinical psychology graduate applications to continue on the stringent path. I thought it was my only option; until I was given the opportunity of the Bonderman Fellowship.”

Ji Ye, who studied Earth and Environmental Science looks at herself as an adventurer and believes that all people are capable of extraordinary feats and deserving of a spectacular life. “I seek purpose and hope to share happiness,” Ye said. “The Bonderman fellowship offers me the opportunity to take all that my education has taught me and break the limits. I will find my way from here by learning from others who are making their own way, however and wherever that may be.”

“Being born at the University of Michigan Hospital, growing up in Ann Arbor, and now graduating from the University of Michigan has given me a lot of advantages,” Neuroscience major, Stephen Dowker said. “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.”

Martin Jamal Jenkins, a Biomolecular Science major, shares that being the next Bonderman Fellow is both an external and internal adventure. “Internal adventure or self-discovery is something that is very important to me because we use core values to connect with others,” Jenkins said. “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.”