I think the best outcome of the Bush Fellowship is that it gave me encouragement to step beyond my comfort zone and do things that I had thought about but felt uncomfortable attempting.
When David Simondet became a Bush Fellow in 1978, he was the chief of police in Bemidji, an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Bemidji State, and a graduate student in the counseling program. Through the Fellowship, he dove deeper into crime prevention techniques and focused on gaining the skills to ensure law enforcement truly served their communities. While he later moved on to counseling and outreach programming, the same passion for community that first earned him the Bush Fellowship never went away.
What made you consider applying for the Fellowship?
To be honest, I did not think that I had a chance at winning, but it was about that time in my life when I knew that it was important to expand my horizons and increase my learning opportunities. I had hoped that I would develop new leadership skills and that the Fellowship would help determine if I wanted to stay in police work or try to use those skills in another line or endeavor.
What aspect of the Fellowship did you find most valuable?
I think the best outcome of the Bush Fellowship is that it gave me encouragement to step beyond my comfort zone and do things that I had thought about but felt uncomfortable attempting. For instance, I received a master’s degree in counseling while in my police job and later used those learned skills in a part-time job counseling chemical dependency clients. At the age of 76, I received another master’s degree in gerontology at the same time as I was managing the Whitney Without Walls Program, an outreach program from the Whitney Senior Center in St. Cloud.
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The Fellowship is a recognition of extraordinary achievement and a bet on extraordinary potential, with up to $100,000 to invest in leadership development.