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Sub-Saharan African Fellowship for Study Abroad and Internships

The Sub-Saharan African Fellowship is funded through gifts from Paula Williams Madison '74 and Lynai Williams Jones '92, with an eye toward providing Vassar students of African heritage, from across the African Diaspora, with the opportunity to study and work in a Sub-Saharan African nation. The donors' intent is to encourage and support students who wish to learn firsthand about the continent and people of their ancestral heritage while studying and working with projects and programs in their field of interest.  It is hoped that through this experiential model, the fellows will be better prepared to understand and contribute to solutions to the global, environmental, economic, health and social needs and priorities of the 21st century.

This fellowship will support international travel to and study in the following African countries: Botswana, Cameroon, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. 

Eligibility: Vassar students who are members of groups underrepresented in undergraduate international study will be eligible; the students will be in good standing and enrolled full-time at Vassar College. 

Fellows are responsible for securing study abroad placements and are expected to adhere to campus deadlines regarding such placement.

The Committee is interested in supporting viable study-abroad experiences; therefore applicants should be planning to participate in an approved or recognized program. Such programs can be explored through the Office of International Programs, in consultation with the Director. 

The Dean of Studies Office will not fund travel to or study in any area that is under U.S. State Department Travel Advisory level 4 or CDC alert level 3.  The Dean of Studies Office will only fund travel to or study in any area that is under U.S. State Department Travel Advisory level 3 if granted through a petition process. For more information visit: Travel Advisory Policy 

Please note that applications for study abroad must be made separately through the Office of International Programs. Deadline for submission of JYA applications for the academic year is in early December. You should have applied for and been approved to study abroad prior to application for the Sub-Saharan African Fellowship.

Fellowships must be used during the academic year in which the grant was awarded and may not be deferred.  All arrangements in connection with the project including appropriate health insurance, travel, and housing are the responsibility of the Fellow.  Vassar College is not responsible for any physical or mental injury, illness or property loss sustained by a Fellow during the course of his or her fellowship.  Fellows may not use the funds to support or defray the expenses of other persons or for non-project related expenses.  Fellows who do not carry through their intended project must return any unused portion of the funds to Vassar College. 

Upon return from the study-abroad experience, recipients will be expected to report back to the College via written reports, travel essays, web-pages, multi-media projects, or other formats as determined by the recipient and accepted by the chair of the committee. The report back should occur in the first academic term of the recipient's return.

Each award, for study abroad or internships, shall be in an amount up to $5,000. Although it may be combined with other funds, the fellowship is intended to fund expenses and activities not normally covered by other funding sources.  In this regard, the Director of the Office of Fellowships will work closely with the Office of Financial Aid so that the fellowship benefits the recipient as much as possible without violating awarding policies for government and institutional financial assistance. 

Eligible candidates should inform Lisa Kooperman ( of their intentions to apply.

  1. Use the Recommendation Registration Form to register two people to serve as your referees.  One letter of recommendation must be from a Vassar faculty member. You must register your writers before you submit your application and inform them that the letters are due by the campus deadline. 
  2. Download the Budget Worksheet and complete prior to completing your application. You will need it when you are ready to submit.
  3. Coordinate with the Office for Fellowships to complete the Sub-Saharan Fellowship application.

For Applicants: You must submit your application through the online system as indicated above. Please note that you cannot save information in the application and return to it at a later date. You'll need a transcript with your fall grades included so you won't be able to submit the application until mid January, the earliest. You should save your work in a separate document and enter it all at once when you are ready to submit. 

For Letter Writers: Candidates should register their references through the online application. Once registered, writers will receive a link to this form Letter of Recommendation Submission Form. If you haven't received an email please follow up with the applicant to ensure that you have been registered to write on his/her behalf. You may access this form at any time through this site, however, you cannot save information and return to the form at a later date.

It is your responsibility to keep the fellowships office informed of changes and updates regarding your anticipated study. The Sub-Saharan Fellowship selection Committee will make all decisions regarding the final awarding of the fellowships. 

All arrangements in connection with the project including appropriate health insurance, travel and housing are the responsibility of the Cornelisen Fellow.  Vassar College is not responsible for any physical or mental injury, illness or property loss sustained by a Fellow during the course of his or her fellowship.  All Fellows will submit a report outlining the summer's work and providing a brief financial accounting to the Office for Fellowships by September 8.  Please note Vassar College does not fund projects or Fellows who plan to travel to or study in any country that is under US State Department Travel Warning. Applicants should pay close attention to these warnings which can be found easily at

Subsaharan Africa Fellows

Spring 2010: Merema Ahmed '12Ghana. Read about her experience on her blog

Fall 2014: Augusto Cividini '16,  South Africa

Spring 2013: 

Jesslyn Mitchell-Laguna ‘15 Uganda

Suanny  Vizcaino ‘15 Madagascar

Spring 2015: Check out Kyle Tam's '16 (Uganda) excerpt on the Africa Channel

Spring 2016: Ehimwenma Osagie '17,  Senegal

Summer 2016: Oluwadamilola Oke '17, Tanzania         

Fall 2017: Savannah Smith '19, (Cameroon) video on YouTube