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The Roanoke Fellows Program



Article by Sarah Joseph

Photo Courtesy of PSU

In recent years, the nationwide push to prepare students with a strong skillset for job placement and outcomes has prompted Roanoke College to implement a new program, The Fellows Program.

The Fellows Program is similar to a high-level work-study/all-inclusive internship.

The idea of the program is that students will have the opportunity to have meaningful engagement with the college while exploring their career paths and developing skills and networks of people, so that when the time to apply to graduate school or jobs comes, these students will be equipped with an impressive resume and hands-on experience needed to succeed.

Unfortunately the Fellows Program is only offered to incoming freshman, which means the opportunity is not available to current students. However, students can find benefit in the work being done by these fellows.

“Part of the reason the program is only open to incoming freshman is that this is a four-year program,” said Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid, Brenda Porter Poggendorf. It is also a recruitment strategy to encourage and entice high school seniors to the school. The Fellows Program provides opportunities for good students, ones that are ambitious, goal-orientated, and ready to pursue their interests in a working environment.

“Another reason is that we want students to engage in the Roanoke community,” said Poggendorf. “By opening it up to only freshmen, these freshmen will have the opportunity to get to know the college.”

Poggendorf figures that current students have already been immersed in the college environment, so that the incoming students would reap the most benefits out of the program.

“What is great about the program,” said  Trombley, “is that I am not limited to just one component of PR and Marketing- it’s like a liberal arts work-study. I am allowed to be creative and learn how to use social media, how to manage office work, interview people, and video editing.”

Current Freshman, Jake Trombley, is a PR and Communications Fellow. He has worked hand-in-hand with the PR department, working on projects like the time lapse of the Cregger Center being built or interviewing and covering the Clinton event with photos and videos (both found on the Roanoke College Facebook page). This is just one example of the benefits from the program.

Trombley has attended workshops and has had chances to truly network, meeting people in the office and in other professions across the field. One of the things he has found truly valuable is his work with social media. Filmography and anything graphic has always been something he was interested in. He had a chance to combine that passion with learning how social media can be a tool. He has learned the small distinctions and nuances that impact a post, such as how a simple word change can create an emotional impact.

“This is experience has definitely reinforced my passion for communications and marketing. I am excited for the next four years,” Trombley.

Dr. Richard Grant, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs & Student Engagement, oversees the program. He hopes that, through this program, these fellows will become models and leaders on campus. Based on URAP (Undergraduate Research Assistant Program), which focused on research, Dr. Grant said the Fellows Program expands the options for student engagement into a broad selection of interests and development opportunities. URAP is being phased out and replaced with the research area of the Fellows Program.

“Overall, we want students to be happy and to pursue their passions,” said Grant. “We hope, through this program, we will be able to help connect them to these passions.”

Since last year’s application process, the program has expanded by creating more categories and choices for incoming freshmen. In addition to applying the Honors Program and the Scholars Competition, incoming freshmen have the option of the various Fellows Programs, including Research, Writing Center, Information Technology, Entrepreneur, Service Leader, Communications and PR, Campus Ministry, and Student Activity.

“This is an opportunity for students to broaden their offerings and to earn top notch work experience, while helping them find their journey, their passion,” said Poggendorf.