Charleston Fellows Program

Charleston Fellows Program

The mission of the Charleston Fellows Program is to recruit highly engaged students and then provide them with dynamic experiences, a robust network, and growth opportunities, such that they’re equipped to address critical issues and prepared to become socially responsible and transformative leaders in their chosen field and/or community. 

The Application Process

All Honors College applicants who have completed their application by the priority deadline (November 1st) will be considered for invitation to the Honors College Interview Weekend. Using a holistic application review process, the Interview Weekend Review Committee looks for evidence of excellence in the following categories:

  • Willingness to learn
  • Rigor and breadth of coursework
  • Leadership experience and development
  • Community engagement
  • Creative and analytic writing abilities

There is no minimum GPA or test score to be considered for the Honors College or the Interview Weekend. Students applying test-optional to the College of Charleston will not be disadvantaged in the Interview Weekend review process.

Students are invited in mid-December to attend an interview weekend that takes place in early February. During the Honors College Interview Weekend, interview candidates participate in activities designed for Honors College faculty, staff, and students to better get to know them while also affording candidates an immersive look into what the College of Charleston and the Honors College can offer. Based on their performance during the Interview Weekend, candidates are selected for membership in the Charleston Fellows Program and for specialty and named scholarships

Charleston Fellows must maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA to remain active in the program and maintain their scholarships. They must also participate actively in all programming and serve as ambassadors for the Honors College throughout the year.

The Charleston Fellows Experience 

The Charleston Fellows Program is more than just a scholarship. In addition to generous financial support, Fellows are afforded unique access to dynamic experiences, a robust network, and growth opportunities, all designed to help them develop into socially responsible, transformative leaders.

Dynamic Experiences

  • Summer Enrichment Funding: Access to funding in support of intellectually stimulating summer endeavors
  • Developmental Workshops: Nuanced tutorials devised to inspire professional and personal growth

A Robust Network

Growth Opportunities

  • Bachelor’s Essay Presentations: A platform to publicly present your senior bachelor’s essay research
  • Charleston Fellows Executive Board: A chance to contribute to the program’s organizational decision-making as part of a student-run Executive Board 

Meet the Charleston Fellows

Who are the Charleston Fellows?

When asked to describe themselves in one word, here’s what Fellows came up with:

Driven / Engaged / Curious / Leader / Passionate / Scholarly / Resourceful / Ambitious Community-minded / Collaborative / Self-aware / Open-minded / Analytical / Empathetic

They are leaders on campus...

Charleston Miracle Executive Director / PRISM Vice President / Women in Business Club Co-Founder / CofC EMS Crew Chief / SGA President / SCAMP Community Chair / Rotaract Co-Founder and President / Varsity Equestrian Team / CisternYard Media Programming Director / MEDLIFE President / Hispanic Latino Club Vice President / Charleston 40 Tour Guide / Alternative Spring Break Site Leader / Alliance for Planet Earth President / Center for Student Learning Tutor / Women in Computing Club President / ELLC Student Director / Relay for Life Events and Activities Chair / Writing Lab Manager / Women’s Club Soccer Team President

Undertaking formative experiences...

Team Leader with Charleston Area Justice Ministries / US Department of State internship / Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory internship / Soliya Project facilitator / Bristol Old Vic Theatre internship / Charleston Symphony Orchestra Young People’s Concert Composer / N.E. Miles Early Childhood Center internship / Lowcountry Food Bank internship / National Science Foundation REUs / Riley Center for Livable Communities internship / National High School Model UN Chief of Staff /  New England Aquarium internship / South Carolina Student Legislature representative / National Museum of Natural History internship

Widely accomplished, on campus and beyond...

13 recipients of the Presidential Award for Scholarship, Leadership, and Service / 3 recipients of the Ted Stern Cup / 6 recipients of the Alexander Chambliss Connelley Award / 17 recipients of the John Lewis Gervais, Jr. Award / 8 Cistern Yard Award winners / 7 Hall of Leaders inductees / 13 New Student Leaders awardees / 10 recipients of ExCEL Awards / 7 Fulbright Scholars / 3 Fulbright US/UK Summer Institute awardees / 5 Goldwater Scholars / 3 Critical Language Scholarships / 3 Rotary Ambassadorial Grantees / 3 Harvard Public Policy Leadership Conference Awards / A Hollings Scholarship / A Boren Scholar / An NIH IRTA Fellow / An NSF Graduate Fellow / A Phi Kappa Phi Graduate Fellow / A Rhodes Scholar finalist 

Charleston Fellows Alumni

Transformational leadership takes many forms. There is no standard roadmap to success for a Charleston Fellow. Alumni regularly go on to become leaders in fields and communities that matter to them, taking the tools they forged at CofC and administering them in a variety of meaningful ways. To give you a snapshot, program alumni are…

Impacting their communities...

Fusing international law with activism in support of human rights / Giving a voice to displaced communities / Trailblazing new paths / Channeling scientific research into real world solutions / Redefining mental health support systems / Humanizing the migrant experience in Mexico and the US / Increasing diversity in STEM fields through mentorship / Showcasing the music of lgbtq+ artists of color / Using journalism to improve health outcomes / Lending a hand during Covid-19

Leaders in the workforce...

JP Morgan Chase / Lending Tree / Boeing / Teach for America / Citi / Blackbaud / Hertz / International Rescue Committee / United States District Court, Central District of California / Accenture / The Juilliard School / Syria Direct independent news agency / TripAdvisor / International Federation of Social Workers / Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation / PwC / Pinterest / US District Court for Eastern District of Louisiana / Ally Financial / University of Michigan Department of Emergency Medicine / Museum of Modern Art / Morningstar / Emory University School of Medicine / Charleston Symphony Orchestra / Booz Allen Hamilton / United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit / Brown University Medical Center / NOAA / Harvard Medical School / Brigham & Women Hospital / Vanguard / Capgemini

Immersed in innovative academic environments...

MA in Social Work, UNC-Chapel Hill / MA in Historic Preservation, Penn / JD, Yale / PhD in Classical Studies, Duke / MA in Arts and Cultural Management, Queen Margaret University (Scotland) / MD, Northwestern / MA in International Studies, Johns Hopkins / MA in Visual Arts Administration, NYU / JD, Michigan / JD, UCLA / PhD Neuroscience, Emory / MA in Global Health, King’s College London / PhD in Neuroscience, Columbia / JD/PhD in Economics, Vanderbilt / PhD in Computer Science, Georgia Tech / MA in Composition and Experimental Sound Practices, CalArts / MD-PhD, MUSC / MA in Conflict Resolution, Tel Aviv University / PhD in Bioinformatics, Harvard / MD-PhD, UVA / Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine, UC-Davis        

Program History

2008 - The William Aiken Fellows Society is established by then-Honors College Dean John Newell and Associate Dean Trisha Folds-Bennett, with an inaugural group of 45 Honors students joining the program. The program is named after the William Aiken House, the building on campus in which the Honors Center resides. 

2010 - In February, the Honors College hosts what will turn out to be the program’s very first Interview Weekend.

2010 - In May the very first cohort of 14 Fellows graduates!

2012 - John Newell retires; Trisha Folds-Bennett becomes Dean of the Honors College and takes charge of Aiken Fellows Society, strengthening the group through an expansion of scholarship support and enhanced programming.


2012 - The International Scholars Program is launched as a joint venture between the Honors College and the School of Languages, Cultures, and World Affairs. All international scholars are granted membership within the Aiken Fellows Society.

2015 - Our inaugural Giving Thanks Reception is held in the Hill Gallery of the Cato Center.

2018 - 31 Fellows graduate from the program, the largest cohort ever.

2020 - A group comprised of students, faculty, staff, and alumni conduct a semester-long strategic planning initiative aimed at charting the future of our merit scholarship program.

2020 - Dean Trisha Folds-Bennett departs CofC to become Provost at UVA-Wise; Dr. Beth Meyer-Bernstein takes over as Honors College Dean and inherits stewardship of the Aiken Fellows Society.

2020 - Following a yearlong review process, the decision is made to rename the Aiken Fellows Society as the Charleston Fellows Program. This new name dissociates the program from William Aiken, whose house served as our original namesake but whose legacy as the owner of enslaved people is incongruous with our values.

Charleston Fellows in the News

Learn more about how you can support the Charleston Fellows Program