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BW May grad wins elite fellowship in Germany

 May graduate Tessa (Smith) Fenstermaker ’19 was chosen for an all-expenses-paid, year-long fellowship in Germany.Just 75 young Americans are chosen each year for the elite fellowship known as the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX). Tessa (Smith) Fenstermaker '19, who graduated in May with a 4.0 grade point average and a double major in German and biology, is one of them.

As described on the CBYX website, the fellowship, funded by the U.S. Department of State and German Bundestag, "provides 75 American and 75 German young professionals … the opportunity to spend one year in each other's countries, studying, interning, and living with hosts on a cultural immersion program."

Facing 'the unknowns'

Fenstermaker said the selection process sought out young people who are "flexible and willing to work through unknowns."

"In the group interview," she explains, "they asked us not only about ourselves, but the people sitting next to us that we had just met while waiting for the interview to start. The interviewers wanted to know that we would go out and make relationships regardless of how uncomfortable the situation may be. Since the program is designed to foster diplomacy between the U.S. and Germany, this is one of the most important aspects."

The BW Honors Program graduate says she learned a lot about interacting with different people and problem-solving as a BW resident assistant in a hall with students from all over the world.

High honor, remarkable student

Tessa Fenstermaker (far left) at BW’s induction ceremony for Delta Phi Alpha, the National German Honor Society, with fellow 2018 inductees Corina Pavel, Professor Stephen Hollender (adviser) and GregUnder the CBYX program, Fenstermaker will receive two months of intensive German language training, a semester of classes at a German university and a three-month internship in her career field.

The substantial fellowship covers her round trip airfare to Germany, housing with a host family, tuition, health insurance and a monthly stipend.

"Tessa is truly a remarkable student with superior German language skills who, because of her excellent credentials and her successful regional interview in Chicago, received this competitive scholarship," says BW German professor, Dr. Stephen Hollender. "It is a high honor for her to receive this award."

BW foundation, future goals

Tessa Fenstermaker (seen here in BW's biology greenhouse) conducted undergraduate research projects in both biology and German.As a BW undergrad, Fenstermaker conducted undergraduate research projects in both of her majors, "studying generational conflict in the German culture and doing field research that used molecular techniques to detect amphibian pathogens at Richfield Heritage Preserve."

The Leavittsburg, Ohio, native says her future goals include the possibility of grad school, working in field ecology and conducting research.

Fenstermaker adds, "Being that I may move around a bit in the future (my husband is in the Navy), I think my versatile skill set ensures that no matter where I am, I can find a job in the sciences that I enjoy."

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