Fellowship sends student to India for social enterprise work

Jenny Seward ’11 had a whirlwind of international experiences during her time at Willamette University — spending time in Ecuador, Spain and Mexico — and after graduation, she heads off for another global opportunity: nine months in India.

Seward, who majored in international studies and Spanish with a minor in economics, was one of 32 students chosen for an IDEX Fellowship in Social Enterprise through Oglethorpe University.

The program will have her studying socioeconomic and political issues in the slums of India, giving her insight into the realities of providing service in the low-income sector as she implements projects that combine business techniques with social action to provide sustainable change.

She is particularly interested in working with after-school girls’ empowerment programs or microloans for education. She hopes to pursue a career in international economic development and poverty alleviation, working for a government agency or a non-governmental organization.

“Willamette is directly responsible for me being able to participate in this fellowship because of the support I received from my professors,” Seward says. “They were more than willing to help me with my application, from reading my statements to writing letters of recommendation.

“I would not have been invited to partake in this fellowship without the opportunities Willamette has given me. From the ability to study abroad and pursue my passions, to having the support of faculty, staff and students, Willamette has been instrumental in my ability to go to India and pursue a career in development.”

Seward first studied the effects of microcredit lending on women’s empowerment last summer, when she researched the issue in Mexico with funding from a grant through the Lilly Project, a Willamette program dedicated to helping students discern their vocation, or their calling, in life.

She also participated in a summer post-session Spanish study program in Quito, Ecuador, and spent a semester studying in Granada, Spain.

Seward also worked as an international program assistant and an international peer coach at Tokyo International University of America, she was treasurer of the College Democrats for two years, and she interned at both the House Majority Office in the state legislature and at Oregon Housing and Community Services.

All her experiences and her connection with the Willamette community led her peers in the senior class to choose her as their student commencement speaker.

“I value the personal connections and relationships I have gained from Willamette the most,” Seward says. “I was able to pursue my intellectual passions and become a more well-rounded and worldly individual, which has been paramount to my success.

“It is also inspiring to see just how much Willamette professors and students care about one another and support each other in whatever ways possible. I loved every minute of my time at Willamette, and I will miss it dearly.”

For more information about national scholarships for students, visit Student Academic Grants and Awards.