Just like University Innovation Fellows help design elements of their higher education experience, they also are highly influential in the evolution of our program. Did you know, for example, that it was a group of Fellows who helped come up with the name “University Innovation Fellows” back in 2013? We also redesigned the core mission of the program based on their feedback — from assigned campus projects to student-discovered and student-led projects. Fellows will always be the driving force that makes our program work.

Here are a few of the roles Fellows have played, and continue to play, in our community:

Fabs (Event Leaders)

These experienced Fellows take on a fabulous (therefore the name) leadership role at our Silicon Valley Meetups and Eastern Hemisphere Meetups. We select them out of the entire international community of Fellows for the impact they have had at their schools and for their contributions to the UIF movement. At the event, they give ignite presentations on their UIF work to all attendees, modeling for the new Fellows the kind of impact they can have at their own schools. They also facilitate workshops, mentor teams of Fellows from different areas of the world, and provide event logistic support.

uiguides (Team Coaches)

Fellows in this 18-month long virtual position help onboard and coach teams of new Fellows. They each interview two teams of students, guide the same teams through our 6-week online training, and coach them as they make impact for the next year. uiguides are a reliable extension of our staff and help us scale relationship building within the network and the impact new cohorts have at their schools.

Regional Meetup hosts

Fellows host these events at their schools in order to showcase their activities and their region. Fellows, faculty champions and non-Fellows travel from nearby (and far away!) schools to attend Regional Meetups to learn more about other schools and hone their skills. Host Fellows raise funding to host the event, design an agenda to highlight their school’s innovation ecosystem, organize logistics like hotels and catering, facilitate activities, and act as mentors to attendees.

Workshop facilitators

The UIF team regularly invites Fellows to co-facilitate workshops for educators, students, and industry members around the world. One specific example are the student workshop facilitators who accepted the d.challenge in 2017, our challenge for students in India to hold 3-4 hour design thinking workshops on their campuses. Building on this success, Fellows from across the globe used our next generation materials, The Innovator’s Toolkit, to hold 2-hour long design thinking workshops to campus participants.

Conference presenters

Whenever we attend conferences, so do Fellows! They present posters about their work, co-lead conference sessions, and connect with attendees.

Training mentors, interviewers and design thinking catalysts

Prior to the creation of the uiguides role, many Fellows signed up to help our staff with onboarding and training new Fellows. Some volunteered to interview applicants. Others served as design thinking catalysts. Still others held the role of mentors support new cohorts going through the 6-week online training. These Fellows provided candidates with advice about the training assignments, helped them overcome hurdles, and gave them advice about their campus projects.

We believe students can change the world. We also believe that our Fellows are the most capable stakeholders to help shape, build and guide the program. And, we know that their passion and enthusiasm for volunteering in all these ways comes from a deep appreciation for UIF, as a transformative experience in their lives. Yet it the UIF staff, our small but mighty team — who are most grateful for the many ways Fellows continue to lift up this movement.