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Keegan Traveling Fellowship

The Michael B. Keegan Fellowship enhances the development of future leaders through world travel and experiential learning. The program is designed to allow a graduating senior the opportunity to pursue an idea or an issue, about which the student is impassioned, and to do so in the context of daily life in a global scenario. The current award is $20,000 per year.

2022 DEADLINE: January 28, 2022

Click here for the alumni-created Keegan Fellowship Website.

Give to the endowed Keegan Traveling Fellowship fund.

Eligibility and Requirements

  1. This one-year fellowship is open to current Vanderbilt University senior (including December 2021 and May 2022 graduates).
  2. Applicants must submit a completed application (see Infoready Application for full Procedures) through the InfoReady system by 5:00 pm on Friday, January 28th, 2022. No applications will be accepted after the deadline.
  3. A selection committee will evaluate submitted applications and select finalists, who will be interviewed in late March. Fellows will be notified of their selection by phone and/or email by April 1st, 2022. Recipients will be required to accept or decline the award by April 15th.
  4. Fellow(s) will receive a $20,000 stipend to support travel and maintenance costs.
  5. Fellow(s) will work with the Career Center Associate Director for Fellowships and Scholarships, Dr. Elizabeth Harrington Lambert, and the Vanderbilt Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) to plan their multi-country, cross-cultural itinerary.
  6. Fellow(s) must communicate monthly the project adviser and should communicate all travel and change in location to the OGSS and Dr. Lambert.
  7. Due to COVID-19 restrictions on international travel, Keegan Fellows will only be allowed to commence travel in accordance with State Department, CDC and WHO guidelines. We anticipate travel commencing in July 2022. Fellows should demonstrate maximum flexibility in selecting host countries. Applicants may propose travel to countries with Level 1 and Level 2 Travel Advisories. You may also include a supplementary list of host countries to be visited if they are at Level 1 or 2 should conditions improve on the ground before commencing fellowship travel. Please visit USA Study Abroad and Travel.State.Gov for more information. NOTE: Travel advisory levels are rapidly changing in response to the COVID Pandemic. If a country regularly had a Level 1 or Level 2 Travel status prior to 2020, it is likely a suitable destination, but final approval to travel will be granted by Vanderbilt/OGSS.

Note: More information is available in the InfoReady application and in the 2022 Keegan Fellowship Alumni Panel & Infosession. A recording of this webinar is available on the Career Center’s YouTube channel.

Application Procedures

Each applicant must complete the application form InfoReady (which includes academic, professional and other biographical information, including multiple short answers and a 500-word essay that demonstrates your leadership ability) and upload the following documents (preferably in PDF format):

  1. CV/Curriculum Vitae (max. 3 pages) that highlights experiences that prepare you to thrive as a Keegan Fellow. This document should highlight your professional (work, internships, volunteer) experience, leadership, extra-curriculars, service, honors and awards, etc. You should also include any international and/or intercultural experience, language skills, professional & research experience, community and/or campus engagement. You may include pertinent activities prior to your enrollment at Vanderbilt, but you should concentrate on your university and/or graduate studies except in the case of exceptional involvement during your high school career (ex. Intel Talent Search, National Merit Scholar, Eagle Scout, Gates Millennium or Jack Kent Cooke Scholar, publications, international experience, etc.). Applicants should meet with their Career Coaches to refine this document.
  2. Research Proposal: approximately 1000-word proposal outlining your proposed study/travel/work including a working title. You must outline your proposed international project, demonstrating how spending a year overseas will enhance your understanding of the chosen subject in a global context. Keep in mind that the Keegan Fellowship seeks to promote reflection on community engagement, leadership development, and a global orientation and is not intended to fund pursuit of a graduate or professional degree or career-focused activities.
  3. Leadership Essay: In <500 words, describe what you consider to be the best example of your leadership skills in action.
  4. Letters of Recommendation. 2 required, 3 recommended. One must come from the Vanderbilt faculty member who has agreed to advise your project throughout your tenure abroad. Another must come from an individual equipped to discuss your campus and/or community service, leadership and extracurricular engagement. The optional third letter may be academic, professional, service or leadership focused.
  5. Transcript: official Vanderbilt academic transcript, available through YES. You can upload an unofficial copy to Infoready but should also request that the official transcript be sent to elizabeth.h.lambert [@] vanderbilt.edu.
  6. Plan of Work/Study/Travel: list of countries to be visited. Applicants may also provide a list of other countries that they hope to visit, should the conditions on the ground and Travel Warning status change prior to departure. 

The idea of creating a fellowship based upon a self-designed program of travel and learning was conceived in 1960 by Amory Houghton, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Corning Glass Works. He worked in collaboration with J. Leslie Rollings, Dean of Admissions at the Harvard Business School, and John H. Finley, Eliot Professor of Greek Literature at Harvard College.

They believed that most of the existing fellowships favored students interested primarily in post-graduate academic pursuits. No fellowship, in their view, fully challenged a candidate's ability to propose and undertake a post-graduate learning experience largely of the student's making. Such a learning experience would be a valuable complement to the relatively formalized character of the undergraduate program.

The Corning Fellowship program expanded in several stages to include students from Yale, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and North Carolina, in addition to Harvard. Competition was keen among the applicants from all five of these universities. The Corning fellows spent a year traveling around the world. No two programs were alike. As a group, the fellows compiled a remarkable record of accomplishment in politics, law, business, and other fields.

Corning Glass saw its role as innovator and creator, yet not as the source of ongoing support. Funding ceased in 1968. Nearly ten years later, the former fellows established the Corning Fellows Association, Inc. and Michael Ainslie, a Vanderbilt alumnus, was elected president of the group.

The goal of the Association was to challenge the universities that had previously participated in the Corning program to establish programs of their own. They took this action because they felt that the traveling fellowship had been one of the most important experiences in their lives.

The World Trade Council of Middle Tennessee and alumni contributions have allowed the University to award this fellowship only on an intermittent basis from 1998 through 2004. In 2003, Michael B. Keegan, the 1980 Traveling Fellow offered to fund the 2004 award and to secure an endowment that would guarantee this program on an annual basis. In recognition of this commitment to the program and to Vanderbilt University, the program has been renamed in Michael Keegan's honor.

The current award is $20,000 per year.

The offices for the Keegan Traveling Fellowship are located on the second floor of the Vanderbilt University Student Life Center.

Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellowship
Vanderbilt University Career Center
Vanderbilt University Student Life Center, 2nd Floor
310 25th Ave. South
Suite 220
Nashville, TN 37240

Phone: (615) 322-2750
Email:  Elizabeth Lambert