Three tenth graders from Bellingham Public Schools will embark on the trip of a lifetime this summer as they join the inaugural cohort of World Fellows, as selected by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. Michelle Jimenez of Squalicum, Aaron Padilla Monterrey of Sehome and Cristina Calleros Martin of Bellingham High School will travel to Leon, Spain at the end of June for a six-week immersion program (pictured in photo 2).

The newly launched Washington World Fellows program is an equity-focused study abroad and college-readiness fellowship created by Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib. The fellowship is intended to provide “academic and study abroad experience that will support their trajectory into college, enhance their high school academics, and afford them a new sense of global awareness.”

Only 15 students were selected from an applicant pool of nearly 300 students from around the state, all of whom earned the nomination of a teacher or counselor and submitted an application to be considered.

“I’m excited that students from all over the state have shown interest in this program – from Prescott to La Push,” Lt. Governor Habib said. “Study abroad changes lives. I am thrilled that this fellowship will expand opportunities for these inspirational and hardworking students.”

Cristina Calleros Martin said she was hesitant to apply but that her family and teachers encouraged her. After she applied, her parents were asking her every week if she had heard back. When the Lieutenant Governor’s office called to notify her that she had won she “thought it was a joke. I thought they were going to call back and say it was a prank.”

Their experience will include a homestay with a Spanish family, Spanish-language immersion, a full schedule of college-level classes, as well as field trips in the surrounding areas. They will also earn ten college credits from Central Washington University.

Following their trip, fellows will be offered leadership opportunities and college application support as they complete high school. Calleros Martin says the fellowship will “open doors” and allow her to note her fellowship in Spain when applying for future educational opportunities that are looking for life experience.

She says she is most looking forward to living in a culture “a lot of people don’t get to experience.” Says Calleros Martin, “This is going to be a life experience I don’t think we will ever forget.”

Read more about the Washington World Fellows at


Photos are from the World Fellows Welcome Day, hosted by Central Washington University. Photos courtesy of Washington World Fellows. Photo credit: David Dick, Central Washington University photographer.

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