Fellow of The Week: Caitlin Hugel!

caitlin FOTW
1. How did you hear about The Massachusetts Promise Fellowship?
From my dear friend and second year fellow, Katie Purcell. Every semester, Emerson College ships 80 students to the Netherlands to live and study in a 14th century castle. Katie and I experienced a kindergarten phenomenon I call “insta-friendship”: we met and immediately decided we were going to be friends forever. Fast forward four years: I’m in the Johannesburg airport frantically looking for a job stateside after terminating my Peace Corps service. Katie had posted about openings in the fellowship and I applied for my current position during a two hour layover in Georgia.
2. What is your favorite holiday and why?
My favorite holiday is St. Patrick’s Day or as I prefer it, in the native Irish, Lá Fhéile Pádraig. My claim to Celtic culture is Boston-standard: my grandmother’s name is Maggie, my dad runs a pub, I was dragged to more New Hampshire Highland Games than most children, and any SPF under 50 is just coconut-scented Crisco. I visited Ireland for the first time in 2010 and it was like going home—which I acknowledge is clichéd given the fact that if every person that claimed Irish descent simultaneously went back to Ireland, the island would sink. I went back to study Irish history and literature in 2012 at University College Cork and again in 2014 just to backpack. St. Patrick’s Day is the only day of the year where people are required to love Ireland as much as I do. This year, my coworkers let me recount the entire history of Ireland! Typically, I bartend with my dad during the day and then stick around after my shift to listen to the traditional Irish band we book.
3. What is your favorite aspect of monthly MPF meetings?
Spending time with my fellow Fellows! It’s a trek from Great Barrington to Boston, but it’s worth it to see forty smiling faces when I roll in over-caffeinated and car-cramped. The greatest asset I’ve gained this year is the MPF network. My fellow Fellows are brilliant, empathetic, energetic, hilarious, and kind. Simply put, they’re the kind of people you commute three and a half hours to see!
4. Why would you encourage others to serve a year with MPF?
Two reasons: a year of service puts a lot of personal things in perspective AND AmeriCorps is designed to set you up for professional success. Living on the AmeriCorps stipend is rough, but it forces you to budget, get creative, and value things and experiences that are cheap or free. I’ve spent more time outdoors, read more books, and cooked more meals. What AmeriCorps and MPF lacks in salary, it makes up for in professional development. Fellows attend two or more topical trainings every month, network, share resources, and bolster their résumés in a big way. If you’re looking to work in the education or nonprofit sectors, MPF is the place to start.
5. How have your fellow fellows impacted you this year?
I feel like I’ve answered this, but I’ll say more wonderful things: My fellow Fellows listen when I need to vent. They offer advice. They share their stories and talents. They are my 24 hour emotional and professional support. AmeriCorps in general and MPF specifically attract a certain kind of human—the awesome kind. Be a fellow!
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