Shelley Spalding, a 2015 WKU graduate and current graduate student from Lebanon, earned an honorable mention for her application for the James Madison Graduate Fellowship.
Spalding, the daughter of Gary and Luanne Spalding, graduated with majors in History, Social Studies and Spanish. This fall she will begin working on a joint master’s degree in history and teaching as a graduate assistant with the WKU History Department.
As an undergraduate, she studied abroad at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England, where she completed honors research on civil rights in Northern Ireland. Spalding’s extracurricular activities and campus jobs demonstrated her commitment to education. She volunteered to meet with prospective students, give campus tours, and represent the Honors College as an Honors Topper.
Spalding also volunteered on campus with Bridges International and in the community tutoring English language learners at Cumberland Trace Elementary School and later working with adult English language learners. She also tutored for the Modern Languages Department and wrote for the WKU Talisman yearbook publication. In 2015, she was named Honors Citizen of the Year and awarded the Richard L. Troutman Award for History.
Spalding said she applied for the Madison Fellowship because it combines her love of history with her passion for teaching at the high school level.
“My initial interests in pursuing a graduate degree in history began with my senior seminar project under Dr. Patti Minter of the WKU History Department,” Spalding said. “I studied the women of the 1961 Freedom Rides in the Civil Rights Movement. I was sad to see the project go. I started dreaming about what studying history at the graduate level would look like even though I had a passion for teaching high school. The WKU History Department and the Office of Scholar Development showed me that I could have both. It was then that I realized I could pursue joint master’s degrees in teaching and history and apply for the James Madison Fellowship.”
During her career, Spalding aims to ensure that rural Kentuckians have access to educational opportunities that will prepare them for success in college and as citizens. She eventually hopes to work in administration or in educational policy, helping to secure the future of social studies and history teaching in Kentucky.
The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation offers $24,000 James Madison Graduate Fellowships to individuals desiring to become outstanding teachers of the American Constitution at the secondary school level. As funding permits, the Foundation plans to offer one fellowship per state per year.
After receiving the master’s degree, each Fellow must teach American history, American government, or social studies in grades 7–12 for one full year for each academic year of funding received under a fellowship, preferably in the state from which the recipient won the fellowship.
“The Office of Scholar Development has been priceless to me since my freshman year when I applied to the Fulbright United Kingdom Summer Institutes,” Spalding said. “They have read so many of my essay drafts and helped me turn them into applications that I’m proud of. Every time I come to them wanting to apply to a nationally competitive scholarship, they are ready and willing to provide me with the best help and advice available.”
About the Office of Scholar Development: The Office of Scholar Development is committed to helping WKU students in all majors and degree programs develop the vision, experience and skills to be independent, engaged scholars. OSD welcomes the opportunity to work with students interested in nationally competitive scholarships.
Contact: Audra Jennings, (270) 745-5043