UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Just a few weeks ago, David Stack, a Penn State senior from Pittsburgh triple majoring in economics, international politics and Chinese, was unsure what his life would look like after graduating from Penn State.
Stack, also a Schreyer Honors College Scholar, said he was searching for ways to transition into a career with the U.S. Department of State.
Now, Stack has solidified his future career path as a result of two prestigious opportunities. In addition to being accepted into the Critical Language Scholarship Program, he has been named a Junior Fellow of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The endowment offers 10 to 12 fellowships each year from a pool of nominees from nearly 400 participating colleges and universities.
“I'm deeply honored, and I'm excited to use these opportunities to develop personally and professionally,” Stack said.
He is the first student from Penn State to receive the fellowship.
Dean Christian Brady of the Schreyer Honors College said this accomplishment is a “tremendous honor.”
“David is an outstanding student who is taking his passions and expertise and applying them in a way that seeks to transform the world into a better place for everyone,” Brady said.
Tanya Furman, interim director of the University Fellowships Office and associate vice president and associate dean for Undergraduate Education, assisted Stack in the final stages of the application process, which included editing his personal statement and essay. “[The fellowship is] very competitive — not only because many people apply — but because it is so specific, and a person needs to be so very well prepared,” said Furman. She noted Stack was a “perfect fit” for the opportunity.
Stack was previously a research intern for the Brookings Institution, where he worked on the Project on International Order and Strategy. He was also an intern for the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute at the U.S. Army War College. At University Park, Stack has worked as a research assistant for Penn State’s Center for Global Business Studies.
The yearlong Carnegie Endowment program is comparable to a research assistantship, as Stack said he will support a senior fellow by primarily conducting background research and data analysis of the Chinese economy.
As Stack said, “when it rains, it pours.” Prior to starting as a Junior Fellow on Aug. 1, he is headed to Xi’an, China, to complete the Critical Language Scholarship Program beginning on June 2.
With seven years of experience speaking Chinese already under his belt, Stack said he will be further immersed in the language through 20 hours of weekly instruction.
Lisa Kerchinski, coordinator of career development at the Schreyer Honors College, said she has worked with Stack for years and is “really impressed with his work ethic.”
“He’s always struck me as a very intelligent, modest and insightful student who’s intrigued and excited about world issues,” she said.
Kerchinski said she hopes other students will follow Stack’s lead by taking advantage of the University Fellowships Office and other resources on campus.
“The talent [students] develop at Penn State through activities, internships and research can allow them to do any type of career or win any type of fellowship,” she said. “Students need to be willing to believe in themselves and attempt the application process.”
Likewise, Furman said with an increased awareness of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, more students will be aware they can pursue this fellowship option.
Stack said he advises students who are currently searching for fellowships to apply to as many programs as possible and not take rejections personally. “As hard as it sometimes is, you should think critically about your own strengths and weaknesses and what you want to do with your life,” he said. “[When applying to fellowships] it's important to demonstrate your commitment with internships and research experience, and then articulate why you are a strong candidate.”
After Stack concludes his experience at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., in July 2017, he said he envisions pursuing a career with the United States government to improve relations with China.
To learn more about the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Junior Fellows Program, or about other fellowship and grant opportunities, visit the University Fellowships Office website.
The University Fellowships Office is part of Penn State Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at undegrad.psu.edu.