By Atty McLellan (’18)

Hi everyone! My name’s Atty McLellan, and I’m the first recipient of Chapman’s Shinnyo Fellowship. Two years ago I began advocating and assisting Orange County’s homeless community, and this fellowship has allowed me to continue to focus on homelessness locally. The financial security that the fellowship provided made reaching out to United Way not only easy, but also empowering. Instead of asking them to give me an opportunity, I was offering them an opportunity to work for them as a free employee AND to build connections to Chapman University.

The Chapman Shinnyo Fellowship is a great opportunity for recent graduates of Chapman who are looking to create change in their community. In 2018 Chapman University joined other leading national universities to offer this opportunity to a graduating senior. According to the Shinnyo-en Foundation, whose generous gift supports this opportunity, “Shinnyo Fellows receive stipends to develop individual student leadership and reflective skills, and to introduce, implement and/or institutionalize the Foundation’s philosophy of peacebuilding through service on their university campuses or in their immediate surrounding communities.” The Fellowship provides a paycheck and benefits for 10 months to a Chapman graduate each academic year, and the recipient works almost full time at a nonprofit of their choice and part time at Chapman’s Center for Undergraduate Excellence. The Shinnyo Fellow must also complete monthly readings and reflection pieces, thus building up their personal path to peace. Working with their community organization and faculty mentor, the Fellow develops a Prospectus project that they largely control.

After working at Orange County United Way (OCUW) for exactly two months I can say it’s been an incredible experience. Not only are all my coworkers wonderful, but since my role is very amorphous, I have experienced a full range of the organization’s positions and projects. I have learned or enhanced my skills, including using database programs and learning how to organize advocacy campaigns. During week two of working at OCUW, I was handed one of their largest corporate volunteer events, Read for the Record. I worked with 8 different elementary schools, communicated with volunteers from 13 different organizations, and helped recruit over 80 volunteers for the event. The next project I’ll be managing is the homeless Point in Time Count. This will be a huge project to be handed because there will be over 1,000 volunteers, and it will hopefully result in the most accurate count of Orange County’s homeless population. I am excited about this because an accurate count will be pivotal in understanding and solving homelessness in the county.

Working in a paid position in the nonprofit field, which I’m passionate about, and that actually being handed important projects to work on is a rare and exciting opportunity for someone right after graduation. I have gained practical experience to solve homelessness, while also having the space to analyze what peace looks like for Orange County and how I can help create that. This is an important part of the fellowship since having intentionality in my actions and goals are pivotal to this work. This theoretical and reflective aspect of the fellowship is so beneficial, yet lacking from a lot of other job opportunities. Through this aspect, I have continued to learn and develop my ideas of what peace is, and have been able to track my personal growth through this component.

So far, the Shinnyo Fellowship has been an incredible opportunity, and has given me a huge step toward achieving my career goals. I’m excited to see how I’ll continue to grow throughout the Fellowship. I encourage students to apply for the ’19 Chapman Shinnyo Fellowship to explore opportunities in the nonprofit of their choice. The Shinnyo Fellowship is open to ALL majors, meaning that the focus and nonprofit of the Shinnyo will be dependent on the recipient’s passions and will look different for each fellow.  Keep a lookout on the Center for Undergraduate Excellence’s webpage for more information about this opportunity!