STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Salisbury University sophomore Nate Sansom is taking what he’s learned here at SU to Paris with his fellowship at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Double majoring in political science and conflict resolution and dispute analysis, and minoring in international relations, Sansom feels that what he has learned has more than prepared him for the fellowship abroad.
Currently, Sansom is in the social and human sciences sector within the youth and sports section at UNESCO.
The fellowship consists of looking at sports programs and the ways in which the programs can help spread the prevention of violent extremism within youth in France.
Sansom explained that the fellowship is more than just sports though, for those at UNESCO incorporate programs to teach important values — such as civic engagement workshops or identity workshops — to try to target and help youth in at-risk areas.
“Really just trying to empower them, that you know, we are youth, we are the future, we can make a difference,” Sansom said. “You are heard, because a lot of these youth in communities that have identified to be at-risk, that’s exactly what they need to hear.”
Sansom obtained the fellowship after applying through SU’s Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution.
The center and the fellowship were named after late founders Carol and Dr. Phil Bosserman. Aside from the academics involved, receiving the fellowship had sentimental value to Sansom in that he knew Carol Bosserman, and was able to share this victory with her.
Sansom got to know Carol Bosserman in his time spent volunteering at Lakeside Assisted Living in Salisbury.
“I got to tell her that I had been awarded this fellowship, and we had a really unique moment — she called me an honorary Bosserman,” Sansom said.
Sansom gives much credit to his success along with praise to the Executive Director of CADR Dr. Brian Polkinghorn as well as the Dean of SU’s Honors College Dr. Andrew Martino.
“Dr. Polkinghorn at the center has been absolutely instrumental in every step of this process,” Sansom said. “It’s not been easy, there have been a lot of hoops to jump through and I give a lot of the credit to him for just helping me through every step of the process.”
When it came down to choosing two students fit for the fellowship, Polkinghorn explained it was difficult in that they just had so many promising applicants.
“I’m hoping in the years to come, that as [the UNESCO fellowship] continues to grow, that we will be able to do the same thing every year,” Polkinghorn said.
When it came down to Sansom’s application and character, Polkinghorn explained that himself and the committee had no doubts that he was right for the fellowship.
Ten students are chosen each year for the program, with applicants from SU, the University of Oregon, Penn State and Georgetown, and the committee looks for a number of qualities in the students they choose.
“What do we look for in a UNESCO fellow? A student who shows initiative,” Polkinghorn said. “Somebody who can advocate for themselves, mature, really has their act together. Somebody we can send to another country for six months and we know that they are going to be doing what they are supposed to be doing.”
UNESCO initially did not want to take undergraduate students for the fellowship, but in sending SU undergraduate students in previous years and having success with them, UNESCO made the exception to allow it.
SU alumni Dr. Mark Brennan, UNESCO chair and Penn State professor, was responsible for starting the fellowship, and he did so to honor Dr. Bosserman’s legacy.
In his work in Paris, Sansom also hopes to preserve this legacy while making the world a safer and better place.
“Really what I want to do here is, of course I want to help with the prevention of violent extremism in youth,” Sansom said. “But more than anything I want to truly continue the Bosserman legacy of Dr. Phil and Mrs. Carol Bosserman, as well as the legacy upon which our center has been built.”
By CAROLINE STREETT
Gull Life editor
Featured photo: Nate Sansom image.