Learning Logs: Fellows

Updates and Insights from Bush Fellows During Their Leadership Journey

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The day I found out I was selected to become a 2015 Bush Fellow was truly one of the happiest days of my life. We often hear people say this when they bring a new baby into the world or when they get married. While I’ve brought two beautiful daughters into the world I found this day to feel different. For me, this meant I could forever change the circumstances for my daughters, my community, and myself in a meaningful and impactful way for generations to come.

Matt Ehlman
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By applying for the Bush Fellowship I thought that I would be able to complete research and finish writing my PhD dissertation. Additionally, I had been brainstorming with my colleagues about creating a nonprofit that would focus on rural philanthropy. My friends and I floated the idea to colleagues, academic researchers, nonprofit leaders and philanthropists about an institute that would be located in rural America, focus on rural philanthropic issues, build capacity for rural nonprofits and hold resources that would be important to the third sector and broader society.

Natalie Bergquist
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As I reflect on this journey, I believe I feel even more grateful for the opportunities, experiences, and life-long learning that I have already and will gain from the Fellowship. I don’t believe the “surreal” feeling will ever dissipate. I encounter people weekly that either congratulate me, ask about how the journey is going, or ask about the application process. For me, the main mission of the Fellowship is completing a doctorate degree in higher education leadership.

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It’s hard to believe that I am already into 6th month of Bush Fellowship. 

Considering the first semester as a full time PhD student I would say it has been nothing short of a very positive and successful experience. 

I had an opportunity to get to know my cohorts as well the professors in my Educational Psychology program. Beyond that, I also had an opportunity to expand my academic and professional network outside of my academic web of contacts.

Ernesto Velez Bustos

My original thought about this question was revolving around some of the most pronounce stages of feelings or emotions that the entire process of the Fellowship has caused or affected in its entire trajectory; by now being well over 18 months when us current Fellows began this journey, the anticipation, anxieties through the selection stages and the culmination of the interviews. 

Sarah Bellamy
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The first and one of the more surprising elements of wining a Bush Fellowship is realizing just how large and supportive the community of Fellows is. Upon the announcement of the 2015 Fellow cohort, I received emails from folks working in diverse sectors to congratulate me and give me friendly (and really helpful!) advice. Most frequently what I heard was, “congratulations, enjoy it!” Several people made sure to remind me that, “this time is for you.” Even though it has only been six months, what I have learned is that it is enormously important to be protective of your goals.

David Whitesock
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At the tender age of 20, a young but enlightened Thomas Jefferson wrote: 

“The most fortunate of us, in our journey through life, frequently meet with calamities and misfortunes which may greatly afflict us; and, to fortify our minds against the attacks of these calamities and misfortunes, should be one of the principal studies and endeavours of our lives.” 

In the letter to his friend John Page, Jefferson was remarking that we were never intended to have “perfect happiness,” but that we have in “our power the nearness of our approaches to it.” 

Adam Perry
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I have always been an Aristotle guy. Don’t get me wrong, Plato and Socrates had their moments. Socrates asked questions, lots of them, because he recognized we do not always have the answers, and thus we have the scientific method. Plato went deep and elevated the human relationship with love past the physical plane to the Divine Eros – what my Sufi Muslim pals call “Ishq-e-Haqeeqi.” Plato and Socrates were not messing around.

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First things first, as a Bush Fellow you'll be asked 'where you going next' with such regularity that you'll have your Expedia itinerary readied awaiting such prompts, and if you're completely dedicated to your journeys, you'll have the accumulated air mileage calculated as well, for myself I hope 'a lot' justifies as a reasonable answer. 

Elena Gaarder
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“I prefer to be a dreamer among the humblest, with visions to be realized, than lord among those without dreams and desires.”
-Khalil Gibran 

When I started on this fellowship journey six months ago, I had a notion of what leadership looks like and thought that “thinking big” meant working towards being at the helm of a major philanthropic or community development institution. My travels and leadership experiences over the past many months have led me to believe differently. I’ll come back to this thought in a minute.