Chloe Shevlin says she was devastated to find out she had been named an alternate for a Fulbright Award after applying as an NC State senior in 2018.
But she didn’t give up.
Shevlin applied again the following year, beat the odds and won a Fulbright scholarship to the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.
The first engineer accepted into the British university’s Quality and Safety in Healthcare program, Shevlin will work with clinicians to study how to improve global healthcare systems. Her dissertation will be based on a project that will create a decision-making model and support system for mothers at risk of delivering prematurely.
Read on to learn more about Shevlin’s path and why she’s a big believer in Jim Valvano’s famous “don’t ever give up” mantra.
How does it feel to have won a Fulbright?
Honestly, it’s hard to put into words. I was devastated when I found out in April 2018 that I was the alternate. Last summer I started my work at Duke Health and could not stop thinking about Fulbright — and I knew I had to try again. I knew I had even lower odds of receiving the award since I was applying at-large and not through NC State since I was no longer an enrolled student, but I had to try.
The application process is extremely long and intensive, but I believed I could add even more value to this MSc program after having an additional year of experience working in an American hospital (and one of the best hospitals at that). I actually found out that I received the award at the end of a workday at Duke. I’m not kidding when I say my entire body froze — I felt like I couldn’t breathe! I physically started to shake from excitement and I booked it out of the office and barely made it to my car before tears of joy started flowing.
I will never forget that day and that feeling. Like Jimmy V said: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Sometimes I think we like to know exactly what the next step is going to be, but we get where we’re supposed to be through hard work and following our passion. Being an alternate was not the first “no” I’ve gotten in my life, and it will not be the last. But especially being a female in engineering, I know sometimes you just have to push through and reach for the stars.
How did your experience at NC State help prepare you for this achievement?
I’d never heard of industrial engineering before going to NC State — so I had yet to discover my passion for health systems engineering. As a part of the intro to engineering program at State, we were required to go to several different engineering discipline info sessions. I had planned to enter the mechanical engineering program (wanting to work with prosthetics), and the industrial engineering info session just fit my schedule most conveniently. Wow — am I glad I went! I learned about the health systems engineering program and knew that was where I needed to be.
I received amazing support from my UREC [Wellness and Recreation] community, where I was a fitness instructor and program assistant, and from my health systems engineering professor, Dr. Julie Ivy. After receiving the Fulbright, I even got a handwritten card from my UREC family, which made me so happy.
I also would not have found my passion for traveling and for the U.K. without having studied abroad in Swansea, Wales, during my sophomore year. I am very thankful for that experience that helped inspire me to go after this next adventure.
What are you looking forward to most about your Fulbright experience?
I can’t wait to be in a new campus environment focusing on a subject I am extremely passionate about and meeting tons of new people. I’m also really looking forward to returning to blogging and doing some self-reflection during this year abroad. My mom calls this “The Year of Chloe,” and she’s exactly right. It’s a year for me to focus on learning, growing and living.