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Physics Grad Wins Wilson Fellowship

By Laura Dallago ’18 on August 12, 2016 11:15 AM

Woodrow Wilson Fellow Mike Sommer will teach STEM subjects in high-need schools

Working in the mailroom during his senior year, physics major Mike Sommer ’16 turned to his coworker and declared "Well, my life just changed forever."

Mike had just read an email with the news he had won the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship, which helps pay for a master’s degree in return for a three-year commitment to teaching in a high-need public school.

Now, a mere two months after graduation, Mike agrees that his life has definitely changed—“for the better,” he chimes.

The Wilson Fellowship is focused on STEM fields and based around high-need public schools (i.e., in which at least half of the students are receiving free reduced lunch) in the states of Indiana, New Jersey, and Georgia. He is currently doing his year-long clinical immersion, teaching physics and physical science in a high school in a rural town in Georgia.

As a Wilson Fellow, he is concurrently attending a graduate program at Mercer University for a M.A. in teaching, focused on creating culturally relevant and differentiated instruction. Upon completing the graduate program and the year of teaching immersion, Mike will teach STEM subjects for three years or more in a high-need school, not to mention serving as a lifelong Woodrow Wilson Fellow and public education advocate.

Mike thanks physics professors Nelia Mann, John Essick, Darrell Schroeter ’95, and Joel Franklin ’97 for influencing him to teach; and also credits working alongside the Center for Life Beyond Reed during the application process. He is looking forward to his commitment and is proud to add that “public education is not just free classes on how to solve the quadratic equation and get into Reed College, but a public health initiative that has the power to vastly improve the future of youth across America.”