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.

2020 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 2020 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.

2020 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): June 1 – July 27, 2020

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
  • 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 in March, April, and May.

Submit cover letter, CV, and names and contact information of two references (all in one pdf document) to by Feb. 24, 2020. Final candidates for the program will be interviewed on Friday, Feb. 28.

For more information contact the Global initiatives office: