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SMC senior earns fellowship

Kelly Rice | Thursday, April 25, 2013

Saint Mary’s senior Nichole Clayton is the latest Belle to be named an Orr Fellow, a two-year entrepreneurial opportunity for undergraduates seeking post-graduation experience.

 Orr Fellows are selected from a pool of applicants each year to enter the professional world through paid positions with Indiana’s most dynamic, high-growth companies, a College press release stated.

Clayton, from Bay City, Mich., double majors in communication studies and business administration with a concentration in management. For the next two years, she will work with Courseload, a company dealing with digital textbooks.

Clayton said the process of attaining the fellowship began by networking with Saint Mary’s alumnae and current Orr Fellows Melissa Jackson and Amanda Lester, the first SMC students to become Orr Fellows.

“I first heard about the fellowship when [Jackson and Lester] came to class to discuss the opportunities within the fellowship,” she said.  “From there, I visited them at the [Notre Dame] Career Fair in September and moved forward with the interview process.”  

Clayton said the process lasted four months, ending on Finalist Day in December.

“It was a long process filled with a series of in-person interviews, personal essays and meet-and-greet information sessions,” she said. “After each event, a few more candidates made it through to the next round.

“Finalist Day was an exciting yet long day of interviews. I was interviewed by four different companies that partner with the Orr Fellowship. Half an hour after my last interview for the day, I received a call from the director of the fellowship offering me a spot in the fellowship and a position with Courseload. I couldn’t have been more thrilled,” Clayton said.

Lester, who was assigned to work for TinderBox for her fellowship last year, said Clayton will benefit in numerous ways from being named a fellow.

“As an Orr Fellow, Nichole can expect to be challenged professionally and personally as she enters the business world,” she said. “She will be given a lot of responsibility on Day One at her host company, Courseload, this coming June.”

“In addition, Nichole will be given the opportunity to gain executive mentorship and be given tasks that would not normally be given to a recent graduate,” Lester said.

Jackson, who was partnered with Aprimo, Inc., said Clayton will learn valuable lessons about the business world.

“As Nicole prepares to break into her professional career, she can expect to learn very quickly working in the tech community,” Jackson said. “Although she will be challenged both personally and professionally as an Orr Fellow, she will have the unique opportunity to work alongside some of the best and brightest minds in Indiana so early in her career.”

Clayton said Saint Mary’s has provided her with excellent preparation for her next two years at Courseload.

“The professors and courses I have taken at SMC during these last four years have taught me to act on opportunity, prioritize listening, stimulate learning and embrace change,” she said. “I wholeheartedly believe that the opportunities and doors that have been opened for me are because of my education at SMC.”

Contact Kelly Rice at krice02@saintmarys.edu