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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.

Jerom Theunissen Named 2018-2019 Traveling Fellow

Jerom Theunissen

  Jerom Theunissen is from Rye, NY and graduated from Vanderbilt University's with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in May 2018. He majored in Civil & Environmental Engineering and Public Policy Studies, with a policy concentration in urban planning. Through his work with Vanderbilt Student Government’s Residential and Environmental Affairs Committee, Jerom improved campus bicycle infrastructure via two Green Fund proposals for bicycle maintenance stations and a covered bike shelter. His contributions to FutureVU, Vanderbilt's forthcoming campus master plan, included developing the university’s transportation and mobility strategy. Encouraged by his experiences at Vanderbilt, Jerom saw the Michael B. Keegan Traveling Fellowship as an excellent opportunity to tap into the global conversation on how cities are addressing their own unique mobility problems.

Jerom's project is titled "Transportation’s Impact on Urban Livability: The Physics and Human Factors of Mobility." From a young age, Jerom became interested in studying how mobility can shape the city’s form through the built environment. As a Dutch and American national who was born in Bangkok, Thailand, Jerom’s background has exposed him to unique mobility systems in these countries. His most profound experience was studying abroad in Copenhagen, where he experienced the city’s bottom-up approach that focuses on the evaluation of both physics and human factors of mobility. On physics, urban designers and engineers are primarily concerned with the physical aspects of urban infrastructure: network capacity, roadway alignments, and traffic operations. Human factors are equally, if not more important, to understanding the choices and preferences people have to get around. By testing and trying out solutions over the years, cities that have taken this incremental approach have shown that this method can be applied to enhance livability in any city.

In particular, Jerom will explore the strategic directions that innovators have undertaken to incorporate consumer preferences and behaviors via human-centered design. Jerom is delighted to work with his with his advisor and Professor of Civil Engineering, Dr. Lori Troxel, to put this approach to the test. He will visit cities of all sizes in over twenty countries across six continents that either struggle or excelled in their effort for enhanced mobility. Jerom will examine the livability aspects of each city’s mobility schemes via 1:1 observation of urban phenomena. In this approach, each city will function as an urban laboratory for critical analysis to test and evaluate how mobility’s livability effects compare in theory versus reality. Along the way, Jerom is keen to investigate new business models, technology, and financing mechanisms, such as ridesharing, bikesharing, autonomous vehicles, congestion pricing, and public-private partnerships. In all the cities Jerom plans on visiting, he will meet with city officials, community organizations, academic researchers, transportation engineers and urban planners to gain an interdisciplinary understanding of how to deliver sustainable mobility in urban environments.

Upon his return, Jerom plans to pursue a career in the transportation planning industry or to enter a graduate program in the subject. By meeting community stakeholders and experiencing different mobility systems firsthand, he looks forward to simultaneously finding new problems that need to be fixed, while assembling a toolbox of mobility solutions to enhance livability in cities around the globe. Jerom is thankful for the opportunity and assistance of Michael B. Keegan and the Keegan Fellowship alumni, and the continued support of his friends and family.

Jerom will keep a blog to document his travels.


 Danielle Kitchen Named 2018-2019 Traveling Fellow

Danielle Kitchen

Danielle Kitchen is from Louisville, Kentucky, and is graduating from Vanderbilt University as a double major in Human and Organizational Development and Public Policy with a focus in Military Studies and a minor in Corporate Strategy. Throughout college, Danielle spent her summers interning at Google, the Hudson Institute Center for Political-Military Analysis, and in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Danielle’s most meaningful college experience was her study abroad on Semester at Sea, where she lived on a boat and traveled to twelve countries in 104 days, studying international markets and religion across cultures. She has also spent time abroad at London School of Economics, where she studied econometrics and post-conflict democracy building. While at Vanderbilt, Danielle was the president and site leader of a spring break service trip organization, an editor for the Vanderbilt Political Review, and a Vanderbilt Tour Guide. In the Nashville community, she is part of the local women's fly fishing team, Music City Fly Girls.

Through her fellowship project, “A Changing Landscape: Exploring the Identity, Role, and Perception of the Military,” Danielle will be traveling to twenty countries across five continents to examine the relationship between civilians and the military. She became interested in this topic after noticing a startling gap in the United States between civilian’s deep trust in the military but admittedly low levels of engagement with or knowledge of what the armed services do.

With the Keegan fellowship, she is seeking to travel to countries with different uses of the military and conscription policies to hear what perceptions of the military are, how the military identifies with the people and the government, and ideas about what the role of the military both is and should be. She believes that as decisions about where and how our own military interferes and influences foreign nations have become increasingly complex, a broad perspective will allow her to understand the implications these decisions have.

In her future, she hopes to use the knowledge and perspective gained from her Keegan experience in a role that aligns political strategy and military tactics. She is incredibly grateful to Michael Keegan and the Keegan Fellowship alumni, as well as her family and her mentors who have supported her along the way.