RIT Student Wins Prestigious International Exchange Fellowship

Jennifer Smith will spend a year studying and working in Germany

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Jennifer Smith

Jennifer Smith, a packaging science student in the College of Applied Science and Technology and German studies student at Rochester Institute of Technology, has been selected to participate in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals, a yearlong, federally funded fellowship for study and work in Germany. Smith, from Bangor, Maine, is one of only 75 participants nationwide and was selected from a pool of more than 500 applicants for the fellowship program.

While in Germany, Smith will attend an intensive German-language course, study at a German university or professional school for six months and complete a five-month internship with a German company in her career field. Participants are placed throughout Germany and have the opportunity to learn about everyday German life from several perspectives.

“I’m looking forward to improving my language skills so I can communicate with my grandparents who still live in Germany,” Smith says. “I’m hoping this experience will help me establish a professional network for future work in Germany. The packaging industry is global, and I would like to work for a company with opportunities in both countries, and ultimately forge a program for RIT students to experience a part of what I will over the next year. I’m also looking forward to comparing the German equivalent of college to my experiences at RIT, and, of course, all the delicious food.”

Wilma Wierenga, associate professor of German at RIT, emphasizes the importance of Smith’s honor.

“I am delighted that Jennifer will be able to spend a year in Germany studying and working,” Wierenga adds. “This scholarship award is an honor both for Jennifer and for RIT. The award is highly competitive and Jennifer is only the second RIT student to receive it. It will be a life-changing experience for her.”

Conceived and supported by members of the U.S. Congress and the German Parliament, the program is financially supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and by the German government. Participants come from nearly every career field, and from all over the United States. Since 1984, more than 1,600 Americans have been awarded this opportunity to gain cultural, theoretical and practical work experience in Germany.