Kelley Karandjeff chosen to take part in Coro Fellows Program

K elley Karandjeff, a 1997 graduate of Kenyon, is one of forty-eight fellows selected from a field of more than five hundred applicants for the Midwestern Center of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs.

An intensive, nine-month, graduate-level fellowship, the Coro Program works "to prepare effective and ethical leaders who are committed to serving the public and reinvigorating American democracy." Coro Fellows are chosen each year through a rigorous, nationwide selection process comprising a written application and a full-day interview. Fellows are placed in classes of twelve in one of Coro's four national centers: New York, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and San Francisco.

Karandjeff says she began to investigate the program while a student at Kenyon. She knew something about it from graduates of the program in her hometown of St. Louis. Further research at the College's Career Development Center convinced her to apply.

"The crux of the program," she says, "is experiential learning. We engage in field assignments, seminars, and group and individual public-service projects, working closely with people and institutions that influence life in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors." One month is spent in each of various sectors, including government, labor, business, the media, and political campaigns. Weekly seminars provide a discussion forum in which fellows exchange insights and ideas with their colleagues. The diversity of viewpoints within the group and the experience of the group process broadens the learning of each individual. Invited guests, ranging from U.S. legislators to grass-roots leaders, add another dimension to the sessions.

Fellows are also required to create their own independent-study projects, making use of their individual expertises and skills. Karandjeff has chosen to focus on the nonprofit sector and to work within an existing program, called Safe Futures, which offers alternative activities to high-risk youth in order to encourage them to stay in school and to develop positive social attitudes.

Fellows also spend substantial time interviewing influential women and men--from members of Congress or state governments to Fortune 500 chief executive officers--exploring the motivations, methods, and logic of leaders. This approach is designed to give the fellows an in-depth understanding of public policy and how leaders develop creative and ethical solutions for society's most complex problems. "Our group was very fortunate in the way we were treated by the state legislators we visited," says Karandjeff. "We were able to interview forty-six people. The accessibility was outstanding."

A sociology major at Kenyon, Karandjeff has worked as a public-relations intern with a community and economic development firm and with the Children's Miracle Network. Her college activities included serving as co-chair of the Shawn Kelly holiday party to benefit Knox County Head Start children, working as a senior interviewer for the admissions office, and teaching art to elementary-school students at the Wiggin Street Art Project.

For Karandjeff, the Coro Fellows Program ended in June, and she is uncertain what she will do next. "I came into the program with the expectation that I would find my love," she says. "Although that didn't happen, I know I've gained the skills and abilities to succeed no matter what I try. The group I was assigned to was very compatible, although we were from very diverse backgrounds. The experience of taking what is taught in a classroom out into the real world where you find out what really works is very intense; it brings everyone close together.

"The Coro Fellows Program challenged me to put my personal views aside, to put away my prejudices, and to look at things with a fresh perspective."

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