Mary Tjosvold Graduate Fellowship in Community Development

Since it's implementation in 2014, the Mary T. Scholars program has sent a little over 20 graduate students to participate in six-week long funded, community-based professional internships in the areas of health, social work, microfinance, agriculture, and education.

The Mary T. Scholars program is one of the few study abroad programs at the University of Minnesota that provides graduate students an opportunity to engage in graduate-level professional development through community-based work in a foreign country. With airfare and most living expenses included in the program, this is not only a unique opportunity to build cultural awareness, but one of the most affordable opportunities for graduate student participation.

In response to the increasing need for global knowledge and skills sharing, this fellowship was created by active humanitarian and University of Minnsota alumna Mary Tjosvold. She tirelessly advocates for the support of global initiatives and works directly with disadvantaged communities.

Mary Tjosvold
Mary Tjovold (center) stands with Chi, a potato farmer (left), and Queen Mary, a dairy farmer (right), in Cameroon.

2023 Program: Chiang Khong, Thailand

Signage outside Center for Girls in Thailand
Posters in English and Thai outside the Center for Girls in Chiang Khong, Thailand.

Students selected for the Mary T. Scholars summer 2023 program will be engaged in a community development and research internship experience at the Center for Girls in Chiang Khong, Thailand for a period of eight weeks. During the internship students will support the center with current projects and help develop ideas for a new initiative on the impact of early marriage. Additional activities at the center may include: data collection and documentation of project outcomes; website development (e.g., content); graphic design/motion graphics (e.g., create info clips); videography/filmmaking; and grant writing and report editing. Given the capacity of the Center for Girls only two graduate students will be selected this year.

Center for Girls’ mission is to work within the Chiang Rai Province to empower women and children, reduce instances of gender-based violence (GBV), and educate the populace about human trafficking issues. CFG seeks to prevent the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) and all forms of abuse against children. [They] are committed to creating sustainable participatory projects that equip people in the surrounding communities with the necessary life skills to become independent leaders who strive towards human rights for all, regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, or socioeconomic status.

2023 Program: Cambodia

Students selected for the Mary T. Scholars summer 2023 program will be engaged in a research and teacher training internship experience at Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organization (KVAO) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for a period of 4 weeks. During the internship, students will support CEHD faculty in delivering a teacher training workshop during the first week. The additional 3 weeks will focus on research activities, including classroom observations, interviews, and follow-up group meetings with research participants. Students will be responsible for data collection and maintenance and communication with CEHD faculty PI during the internship placement. Additional activities in collaboration with KVAO staff may also be included as part of program activities.

KVAO is a non-governmental humanitarian organization easing the integration process of Cambodian refugees deported to Cambodia. Its goal is “to assist Cambodian citizens being deported back to Cambodia with integration into Cambodian society to reduce violations of human rights, vulnerability to conflict, and to assist returnees with establishing stable, constructive, and independent lives in Cambodia.” Its main objective is “to facilitate the integration process of people who were admitted to the United States as refugees and are being deported to Cambodia by providing assistance with orientation, legal documentation, employment assistance, temporary housing, basic medical support, legal monitoring, and follow-up/field visit support in order to help those who seek assistance in becoming independent and productive members of society.”

2023 Mary T. Scholars Application Information

Graduate students selected for this program will receive airfare and most living expenses for an eight-week unpaid, non-credit internship in Thailand.

Program Dates (Tentative):
Thailand: June 12 – August 7, 2023
Cambodia: June 12 – July 10, 2023

All CEHD graduate and professional students are eligible for this program. If positions go unfilled in CEHD, invitations will be extended to the broader University community.

To apply, applicants should submit a cover letter explaining how the internship best fits your past experiences and future goals (1-2 pages), CV, letter of recommendation from academic advisor, and two additional references. Essays should highlight the academic and professional background of the applicant in relation to the internship focus area.

Mary T. Fellows will be selected based on their capacity for:

  • Previous experience related to the professional requirements of the position
  • Fit with academic goals and current program
  • Evidence of commitment to international engagement
  • Flexibility and initiative to work in new environments
  • Capacity to work in groups and be a team player
  • A commitment to reciprocal benefit of Fellow and community partners.

Fellows will be expected to attend pre-departure workshops and register for a 1-credit schedule B course related to the ethic of international field work (day/time TDB).

Submit cover letter, CV, and names and contact information of two references (all in one pdf document) to CEHD International Inititatives, by February 28, 2023.

For more information contact the International Initiatives office: