To instill in recent graduates of Union College an entrepreneurial approach to addressing social problems, a lasting commitment to the poor in developing countries with an important spillover impact on current students.
Union College’s vision: To become a leader in educating students to be engaged, innovative and ethical contributors to an increasingly diverse, global and technologically complex society.
The Minerva Fellows Program shapes that vision by exposing young Union graduates to the human side of poverty and by teaching them to harness their entrepreneurial skills and talents for lasting, positive impact. While many students care deeply about those who are less fortunate, they know little about the opportunities that exist to help. This program provides that opportunity to make a difference. While some Minerva Fellows may become social entrepreneurs who devote their careers to finding innovative ways to eradicate poverty or improve conditions in the developing world, most will return to a conventional career path. Regardless of the path they choose, their experience as a Minerva Fellow changes each of them forever – they become global citizens. And by sharing their experiences with students on campus, their impact is multiplied.
Interested students apply in the fall term of their senior year and are chosen during the winter term. Fellowship recipients take a social entrepreneurship course in the spring during their final term at Union. This course teaches them to be inquisitive, creative, questioning, skeptical and ambitious, and it opens their minds to the possibilities that exist to better manage social initiatives. Following their graduation in June, the Minerva Fellows travel to their project locales in July. In May of the following year, they return immediately to campus to live for one month during which they offer formal presentations, interact informally with students, speak to classes and give presentations to the community. Returning Minerva Fellows also join the social entrepreneurship course as instructors, where exactly one year ago they sat as students, and in the class is the next group of Minerva Fellows who benefit from their experiences, graduate in June, embark on their mission in July.