Hannah Funk (SFS ’20) studies Culture and Politics with a focus on sustainable development and Latin American studies. On campus, she leads the environmental club and interns at the Georgetown Office of Sustainability, working to promote composting and recycling solutions for the university.
As a 2019 Udall Scholar and a (very recent!) 2020 Fulbright scholar, my experiences working with the GOFAR office to pursue fellowship opportunities have been one of the most meaningful parts of my Georgetown experience. Looking back, I am so grateful for the ways in which the application processes helped me to articulate my goals and build community at Georgetown and beyond.
I was drawn to the Udall Scholarship for young environmental leaders as a sophomore at Georgetown. As a CULP major, I focused my studies around social inclusion in international sustainability. My career goal is to work to include vulnerable communities in sustainable development in Latin America, one of the most unequal and environmentally important regions of the world. After working on many iterations of my Udall application with the support of the GOFAR team, I was disappointed to ultimately not be selected as a scholar in 2018. However, a year later, while studying abroad in Brazil and being exposed to new experiences that only made me more passionate about international environmental justice, I decided to reapply. This time, I was selected as a Udall Scholar. I attended the week-long Udall orientation with other student leaders pursuing careers related to the environment, as well as Native American tribal policy. The opportunity to be part of a group of young people from around the U.S. who shared my commitment to environmental and social justice and worked to make change in their own college communities was incredibly inspiring.
The same summer I went to the Udall orientation, as a rising senior, I began to think about post-graduation opportunities. My experiences of studying abroad, pursuing environmental internships, and meeting other Udall Scholars helped to define my values for the next year; I knew I wanted to pursue an international learning experience, gain meaningful experience in sustainable development, and be part of an intellectually-driven community. Motivated by my past positive experiences working with GOFAR, I applied to several international fellowships during the summer and fall of my senior year, including the Marshall Scholarship to pursue graduate studies in England, and a Fulbright Research Award in Brazil.
Working on these two applications simultaneously helped me to imagine and get excited about different international post-grad opportunities, and allowed me to work with a network of other Georgetown students also applying for fellowships. Even though I was not selected as a Marshall scholar, I have no regrets about the hours spent on this application, because of the way that the application process helped me to reflect deeply about my personal, academic, and professional goals. I believe that working on the Marshall and the Fulbright at the same time made my applications for both fellowships stronger, and I learned just a few days ago that I have been selected to pursue a Fulbright research award in Brazil next year.
Receiving my Fulbright acceptance email at a time that I am finishing up my senior year through Zoom classes was a bittersweet feeling. I was immediately excited to get to pursue my goals of researching sustainable and inclusive development in Brazil, but my excitement is tinged with anxiety about the current restrictions on international travel and public health. However, everything I have learned through the past three years of working closely with the GOFAR office and communities at Georgetown and beyond has made me feel confident and empowered as I lean into this uncertainty. I recognize the value of global education, research, and community building, now more than ever, and am so excited for the adventures the next year has in store for me.