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Student Voices:
Media Arts & Design

Hear about some of the experiences of your fellow Drexel students about their experiences applying for and undertaking fellowships.

Interview with 2013-14 Fulbright Applicant Sherman Lai

Read this interview with last year’s Fulbright applicant Sherman Lai (Architecture, BArch ’13). Even though he wasn’t selected for the Fulbright US Student Program, he learned a whole lot just from the application process itself and credits the work he did for Fulbright for a success in his professional life.

1. Where did you apply to, and what did you propose to do?
This past fall, I applied for a Fulbright to Singapore.  My plan was to conduct architectural and urban research on how two newly built integrated resorts (colossal-sized hospitality and entertainment complexes) are affecting the built environment.

2. What did you learn from the application process itself?
Applying for a Fulbright helped me understand the importance of perception from the audience’s point of view. The repetitive revising and reviewing of my application trained me to become more critical, clear, and concise. There is always so much information you want to convey, but so little space for everything you want to say! Since my proposal was an arts application, I was required to have not only an essay component, but also a portfolio piece for submission. This led me to construct my greatest portfolio yet (my fourth one in my college career), in which I am proud to showcase my work.

3. While you weren’t selected for the Fulbright US Student Program, what did the process of applying help you do?
Although I wasn’t chosen for Fulbright, I had an incredible journey through the application process.  Working with the Drexel Fellowships Office, various Drexel faculty, and everyone that I persuaded to help me, provided me with the opportunity to create the finest work I possibly could. Even though I submitted my application for Fulbright, I carried on that same mindset to my architectural employment hunt, and landed a full-time position at studioMUSarx, a design studio specializing in museum planning, architecture, and exhibit design. While the portfolio alone could not have secured me a position, I must say it was the “icing on the cake” during my interview.

4. Is there anything else you’d like to share with future applicants?
Utilize your resources!  There are many people who are willing to help you read and revise your work. Send your essays (and portfolio pieces) to everyone and anyone you can. Start early, stay on top, and be persistent.  Lastly, even if you aren’t offered Fulbright this year, don’t give up hope!  I discovered after talking to a few Fulbright alumni that some of them applied three or four times before they received a grant.  I personally plan to apply to Fulbright again in the future, with the benefit of additional professional experience and knowledge.

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Drexel Celebrates First Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow, Jennifer Shin '13

By: Emily Coyle

Jennifer Shin imageDrexel alumna Jennifer Shin (BA Architecture ’13, Honors) has been named a 2018 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow in recognition of her potential to make significant contributions to American society, culture, and her academic field. Jennifer is one of just 30 fellows selected from across the country and the first person from Drexel to receive the award. Only 2% of applicants receive the highly prestigious award that supports immigrants, children of immigrants, and DACA recipients pursuing graduate school in the United States with up to $90,000 in funding.

Through the fellowship application process, Shin found herself pushed to explore her New American identity more deeply. “To have been named a 2018 PD Soros Fellow is a true honor,” she says. “It has given me courage to dream greater dreams than I could have imagined as a child, and reminds me of the promises and real potential of our nation.”

For Shin, being a New American means balancing her American and Korean identities. Shin’s grandparents fled from North Korea to South Korea in 1953. They eventually immigrated to the United States where Shin was raised in Ocean, New Jersey by her mother. In New Jersey, Shin navigated the difficulty of moving between Korean and American cultures, finding her identity, and “not feeling a sense of belonging in either culture.” Growing up in a single parent household only added to the challenge, but she asserts, “I have a sense of gratitude for the challenges I faced because they necessitated that I find the tools to be able to navigate my varied identity outside of my heritage or family background. The specifics of my childhood, though challenging, have given way for me to be able to investigate who I am and how I might sit across multiple worlds, and thus articulate myself as part of the larger human story."

Shin later found another home, this time at Drexel University, in the school’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. She was drawn to Drexel’s architecture program because it allowed her to “pursue a longer professional degree that equipped [her] with practical, real-world tools.”

Shin was also a member of the Honors Program in the Pennoni Honors College at Drexel where she was actively involved and relished taking the honors seminar courses that “provided diverse outlets for creative thinking and academic exploration.” Shin completed the Students Tackling Advanced Research (STAR) Scholars Program in Summer 2008 and worked under the mentorship of Paul M. Hirshorn, FAIA, Professor Emeritus. Professor Hirshorn wasn’t surprised to hear that Shin has received such a highly prestigious award and has been named a 2018 PD Soros Fellow, explaining, “As her studio instructor in her early years, her STAR program advisor, and her department head, I was keenly aware that Jen always set the highest standards for herself, invariably reaching them.  When I hear about her successes I am pleased, but never surprised.”

Following graduation from Drexel in 2013, Shin co-founded the Raymond Farm Center for Living Arts & Design, a nonprofit arts organization in Bucks County, Pennsylvania that serves as a cultural arts center and artist residency. Along with preserving the farm and legacy of Noémi and Antonin Raymond, the center provides opportunities for students and artists while cultivating a connection to nature.

Now at Yale University, Shin is pursuing joint degrees in architecture and environmental management. Her future career goals are still taking shape, but she knows she wants to marry her dual interests: “I do know that I want to leverage my rigorous architecture background with my environmental studies. This may take the form of ecological urbanism, ecological regional planning, or environmental land use management.”

Read the full award announcement on our website.

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