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A Division of the International Studies Office

International Student Citizen Leaders Fellowship


The International Student Citizen Leaders Fellowship provides mentorship and training to a select group of international students who want to design and implement a project to improve the international student experience at UVA.  The Fellowship is a joint collaboration between the International Studies Office and The Contemplative Sciences Center’s Student Flourishing Initiative. The concept of flourishing will be used to help students envision the forms of engagement they would like to see on Grounds to enhance the well-being of the greater international student community, or some subset within it. In addition to a set of skills, practices and theories associated with flourishing, fellows will learn research-based methods to help them plan, implement and assess the impact of their projects. Fellows will emerge from this year-long program having cultivated their own unique style of citizen leadership, one that enables them to lead their own lives in a way that is more engaged and values-driven, while making it more possible for others to do the same.


  • Fall 2021: Students apply on a rolling basis in the fall and are selected based on the strength of their motivation and the clarity of their vision for improving international student flourishing at UVA.
  • Spring 2022: In the spring, students will enroll in a ONE CREDIT SHORT COURSE (INST 2550 International Citizen Leaders Design and Launch) hosted by the International Residential College. The course introduces students to a set of research-based strategies, contemplative theories, and leadership skills that will help them develop their community engagement projects. The course also provides a collaborative forum for fellows to form relationships with one another, build solutions together, and receive mentoring from ISO and CSC advisors.
  • After Program Completion: After completing this year-long program fellows are encouraged to continue working on their community engagement projects. To this end, fellows will have continued access to “coaching calls” with ISO and CSC advisors. Fellows will also be invited to serve as mentors to subsequent cohorts of Citizen Leader Fellows. Through their continued involvement, fellows will contribute to the development of a network of engaged citizen leaders rooted within, and extending beyond, the international student community at UVA.

Eligibility Requirements

Undergraduate and graduate students who identify as an international student and are not in their final year of study.

All students who apply or are nominated to apply will receive an email from the fellowship committee to schedule an interview. Applicants will be asked to complete a brief google form prior to the interview to ensure students understand the goals of the program and the investment required of them.

Fellows Expectations and Commitments

  • Attend biweekly mentoring sessions with leadership advisors beginning in November 2021
  • Enroll in INST 2550 International Citizen Leaders Design and Launch for spring semester 2022
  • Develop research measures in partnership with leadership advisors
  • Adhere to project timeline deadlines and expectations set up by program advisors
  • Present project outcomes during April 2022 International Student Citizen Leaders Fellowship Assembly (date and details TBD) 

Why Become a Citizen Leaders Fellow?

The Citizen Leaders Fellowship provides the resources, support, and professional networks to pursue leadership goals you might not otherwise have opportunity to achieve in your academic, professional, or extra-curricular endeavors at UVA.  Here are some of the benefits to pursuing this competitive, professional fellowship:

1. Gain Pragmatic Experience and Skills 

Develop valuable skills and knowledge (related to leadership, research, project management, and mentorship) which will be useful in your present endeavors as well as your future professional and civic life: 

  • Project management: Oversee the planning, implementation, and assessment of a year-long community impact project. Learn to manage your time and set achievable and measurable goals.
  • Leadership skills: Expand your leadership skills and successes to areas outside the academic realm.  Gain experience with and learn techniques for working with a diverse team and leading others toward a common goal. 
  • Oral/written communication: Practice articulating your ideas clearly and persuasively through writing and public speaking opportunities.
  • Research/investigative skills: Get hands-on experience gathering and interpreting data collected through surveys, interviews, focus groups and other qualitative research methods.
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills: Learn to exercise sound reasoning and decision-making as you analyze and address a specific challenge in your community.

2. Make a Difference in Your Community 

Become an agent of positive change in the international student community: 

  • Deepen connection to community: Reflect on what you would you would like to see more of in your community and deepen your sense of membership in the act of pursuing it.
  • Enjoy a sense of purpose and service to community: Think about the values that make your endeavors meaningful and put them in the service of your community.
  • Make a lasting impact on the lives of others:  Become a changemaker in your community, influence the well-being of fellow international students, and lay the foundation that future cohorts will build upon. 

3. Connect with a Global Network 

As a fellow you will have opportunities to utilize UVA’s vast network of alumni and communications resources to:

  • Connect with prominent UVA alumni and others for mentorship and expertise in areas relevant to your project and research methods;
  • Showcase your project through UVA communication channels including websites, social media, newsletters, interviews, and additional promotional materials; and
  • Become a lifelong member of a growing community of Citizen Leaders Fellows.   


Application Process Outline


  • Applications reviewed on a rolling basis followed by an interview. 
  • November 15. Selected applicants will be contacted for an interview

Application Questions: 


Program of Study at UVA:

Expected Term and Year of Graduation:

Motivation: Briefly describe why you are interested in becoming a 2021/2022 Citizen Leaders Fellow?

Community Impact Vision: What kind of positive change would you like to see on Grounds or what unaddressed need would you like to see met that will help international students thrive at UVA? You can define your target community as narrowly or expansively as you like. It can extend to the entire international student community or to some subset of the international student population. 

Project and Outcomes: Sketch the contours of a project you would like to work on in the coming year. You might target a particular challenge which thwarts the pursuit of flourishing within your chosen community. Or you might identify something that promotes flourishing and propose to expand it or build upon it. What measurable outcomes might you expect to see? Which of the following interconnected attributes of flourishing (Keyes 2007) would your project potentially contribute to?

  • Emotional well-being (sense of curiosity, satisfaction, enjoyment of and contribution to one’s UVA experience)
  • Psychological well-being (sense of purpose, self-awareness, self-acceptance, resilience, stress/anxiety management),
  • Social well-being (empathy, engagement with others, sense of belonging)

Leadership Vision: Describe the kind of leader you would like to become in your community of international students. What are your current strengths? What kind of skills do you wish to acquire through this fellowship? 

Now Accepting Applications:   Google Application