LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 17, 2010) − Mark Smith, a University of Kentucky history and Spanish graduating senior, has won a James Madison Memorial Fellowship worth up to $24,000 toward a master's degree with an emphasis in U.S. history and the Constitution, which he plans to apply toward a career in education.
Smith, the son of Louis and Nancy Smith of Louisville, is one of 58 students nationwide awarded the prestigious James Madison Fellowship in its 19th year. Fifty fellowships this year were awarded to current teachers and only eight to graduating seniors, like Smith, who are entering graduate programs. Named in honor of the fourth president of the United States, considered the "Father of the Constitution and Bill of Rights," the fellowship funds up to $24,000 of each fellow's course of study toward a master's degree. Their program must include a concentration of courses on the history and principles of the United States Constitution.
This year's 58 James Madison Fellows were selected in competition with applicants from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the nation's island and trust territories. Fellowships are funded by income from a trust fund in the U.S. Treasury and from additional private gifts, corporate contributions and foundation grants. Fellowship recipients are required to teach American history or social studies in a secondary school for at least one year for each year of fellowship support. The award is intended to recognize promising and distinguished teachers, to strengthen their knowledge of the origins and development of American constitutional government, and thus expose the nation's secondary school students to accurate knowledge of the country's constitutional heritage.
Smith was pleased to be selected for this fellowship, which he felt was a perfect fit for his career goals of being a high school U.S. history teacher. "I consider this honor an affirmation of the work and effort I have put into my studies over the years" says the senior. "I am excited to be recognized as Kentucky's recipient of this fellowship, and it gives me inspiration to continue on with my studies and career plans."
A 2006 graduate of St. Xavier High School, Smith completed his bachelor's degrees in history and Spanish with a minor in geography on May 8. A previous recipient of the English-Speaking Union Scholarship, Smith has been active in eUreKa and was named a Chellgren Fellow at UK. Additionally, he has been active in the nonprofit grassroots organization Progress Lex.
Upon graduation, Smith will travel to Washington, D.C., to take courses related to the Constitution at Georgetown University. Upon completion of those courses, he will apply his award toward graduate school at UK where he will enter the Master of Arts in Secondary Education with Initial Certification (MIC) Program in social studies.
Once Smith graduates from the MIC Program, he will teach U.S. history or government in a high school for at least two years as part of the fellowship and then continue to pursue a career in education.
"After a few years, I would like to teach AP (Advanced Placement) courses, and eventually, I would like to be a principal or school administrator," adds the Madison Fellow. "All of that is down the road, however. For now, my focus is on becoming the best teacher I can be."
Founded by an Act of Congress in 1986, the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation is an independent establishment of the executive branch of the federal government.