Celebrating 10 Years of the Killam Fellowships Program

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Motivated by their passion for educational excellence and their vision of an enduring Canada-U.S. relationship, Fulbright Canada joined forces with the American Killam Trusts in the fall of 2002 to create the Killam Fellowships Program.  The result of that parternship is a unique, high-profile scholarship program that allows undergraduate students from the United States and Canada to participate in a formal, structured program of academic and cultural exchange. 

The Killam Fellowships Program is an enduring legacy to Constance Killam and Elizabeth Killam Rodgers, two women who were born in Yarmouth Nova Scotia, but spent the majority of their lives in Marshfield Massachusetts.  They were sisters of Canadian financier Sir Izaak Walton Killam,who, during the first half of the 20th century, was one of Canada’s richest men and greatest philanthropists. Like their brother, Elizabeth and Constance Killam were committed to the advancement of education and to the promotion of international understanding.

The Killam Fellowships Program has grown significantly since its inception. In its first year, 13 students from 20 partner institutions participated in the program. Ten years later, the program will be offering some 40 awards, and will involve 42 institutions, representing all regions of North America.  The program has truly grown into a continent wide bi-national exchange program.

The Open Competition

Initially, the program was exclusively for official partner institutions.  Students from a select group of Canadian partner institutions could participate in a reciprocal exchange with students from a select group of institutions in the United States.  In 2007, in the program’s 5th year, the open competition was introduced, allowing students from any degree-granting institution in either country to attend classes at any degree-granting institution in their host country, opening the door to thousands of exceptional undergraduate students. 

The Killam Experience

The Killam Fellowships Program offers undergraduate students an exchange experience that is unique to North America.  All Killam Fellows, both Canadian and American, travel to Ottawa in September for the Annual Fall Orientation Program. While in Ottawa, Killam Fellows have the opportunity to meet and interact with the American Fulbright students and scholars and participate in a series of cultural and academic activities, culminating in the Annual Fulbright Canada Hockey Game.Each student will then travel to their host institution, where they will have an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the culture of their host community, while pursuing their undergraduate degree. While on exchange, students also have an opportunity to visit another part of their host country to learn more of the rich cultural tapestry of the United States and Canada.Many students, having forged strong bonds of fellowship at the Fall Orientation Program, take this opportunity to visit other Killam Fellows in another part of the country.  Then, in the spring, after their exchange is complete, all Killam Fellows will again convene in Washington, DC for the Killam Spring Seminar; three days of academic and cultural activities in America’s capital.  By the end of their time on exchange, Killam Fellows have a deep-seeded understanding of their host country and have forged strong relationships with colleagues from across the continent that will benefit them throughout their lives. 

Killam Community Action Initiative

To build on the strong connection between Killam Fellows, Fulbright Canada introduced the Killam Community Action Initiative (KCAI) in 2011.  This program, which is based on the model of the highly successful Fulbright Canada Community Leadership Program, offers teams of Killam Fellows and alumni small grants that may be used to support a project, event or activity that will have a beneficial impact on their home or host community.  In its first year, two excellent projects received KCAI grants.  Anne Larkin led a group in Vancouver hosting a “Passport to Permaculture” summer camp for children. While Mallory Lavoie lead a team of Killam alumni to host a French Immersion Summer program for youth in the State of Maine.

The Elizabeth Killam Rodgers and Constance Killam Annual Public Lecture

Each September, coincident with the Fall Orientation Program, Fulbright Canada hosts the Annual Elizabeth Killam Rodgers and Constance Killam Public Lecture.  This lecture offers the public an opportunity to hear renowned speakers on topics of shared importance to Canada and the United States. Notable speakers include award winning journalist Andrew Cohen, blogger, activist and Fulbright alumnus Cory Doctorow, and Dr. Ruth Simmons, Fulbright alumna and President of Brown University.

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