Some time ago in the Wordhoard I announced that I was being interviewed to be a White House Fellow, a topic that came up in subsequent posts.
I was surprised by the response. I got a lot of kind words of support from medievalists and other scholars. I think many people shared my hope that the after-effects of this kind of position might help the whole field.
About a week ago I got a letter from the White House Fellows office letting me know that I was not selected this year. The reason I've taken so long to mention it in this space is that there were friends and family who wanted to hear it from me before a public announcement.
Am I disappointed? Sure I am. The four people who are going from my region, though, are each of them fine, deserving people -- an F-16 Mission Commander, a test pilot/cellist, a Walt Disney World engineer, and a financial consultant. There's no shame in losing out to any of these four, and I hope each of them is ultimately drafted by an agency.
Lots of people have asked me, "What now?" Well, everything I was doing that interested the WH Fellows program in me was things I would be doing anyway. I'll still be editing and writing. I'll still be working with international students. I'll still be promoting medieval lit at every opportunity. It isn't as if I suddenly started these things a month ago to pad my CV for the interview. If one strives for a lifetime of public service, one has to perform tasks for, well, a lifetime.
The other question people have asked is whether I plan to apply again next year. Absolutely! The application process was interesting and, although it was time-consuming, much of the time-consumptive parts I can simply revise from my previous application. Plus, the interview process revealed a serious weakness in my application packet -- a weakness I plan to remedy next time around. I'll keep apply until either they give me a fellowship, stop interviewing me, or issue a restraining order.