Elizabethtown College Produces Most Finnegan Fellows

While an undergraduate student at Gettysburg College, Professor of Political Science and Department Chair, April Kelly-Woessner spent the summer of 1994 in Harrisburg, researching environmental justice in the Office of Public Liaison at the Department of Environmental Resources (now known as DCNR). As part of this paid internship, which coincided with a monetary award, she stated she was able to use her "research methods skills to solve a real-world problem in state government." That is the idea behind the highly competitive fellowship program offered by the James A. Finnegan Fellowship Foundation.

“Proudly providing summer internships for Pennsylvania's future leaders.”

The Finnegan Foundation has provided real-world learning experiences for students since 1960, who either attend Pennsylvania institutions or are residents of the state, in all three branches of state government: executive, judicial, and legislative. Kelly-Woessner stated these fellowships give students "a new appreciation for the complexities of state government." Another benefit, she stated, is students meet weekly with high-level government officials. "This is a relaxed meeting over lunch, so students really get to engage in meaningful dialog about state politics.".

Future paths vary from student to student—some enter academia, go on to law school, or begin a career in public service. Two former Finnegan Fellows went on to become recipients of a Fulbright award.

Elizabethtown College has an impressive history with Finnegan.

As of 2015, Elizabethtown College has produced 22 Finnegan Fellows, more than any other Pennsylvania college or university. Mentorship is key. Kelly-Woessner's advisor encouraged her to apply to the prestigious Finnegan Fellow program; years later, she did the same for one of her students, Kyle Kopko. He applied, was selected, and spent the summer of 2004 in Harrisburg. Kopko now teaches at Elizabethtown College alongside his former mentor, inspiring his own students to consider a Finnegan Fellowship.

We have several generations happening here,

Dr. April Kelly-Woessner - Professor and Department Chair

The Finnegan Fellowship application process is not easy. Students must complete an original essay, taking a justified stance on a real-world issue posed by the Foundation—complete with objective research substantiating their position. In addition, the timing of the application deadline usually falls over Winter Break.

Students apply with no promise for academic credit or award. Some students will try again if they don't make it on their first attempt—and, often, that perseverance is rewarded.

Recent Award Winners:

Elizabethtown College’s Complete Finnegan Fellow History:

  • 2009 – Megan Bean, Alexandra D’Angola
  • 2007 – Daniel Mallinson
  • 2006 – John Bayard, Jason Theobold
  • 2004 – Jessica Defenderfer, Kyle Kopko
  • 2003 – Matthew Miller
  • 1997 – Melanie Reiser, Kristy Wade
  • 1996 – Jessica Gensler
  • 1995 – Duane Stone
  • 1993 – Ethan Haase
  • 1984 – Craig Bright
  • 1983 – Craig Bright
  • 1982 – Craig Bright

    (view all  Finnegan Fellows here .)