Columbia College today announced a $6 million gift from Mary Kathryn and Alexander Navab CC’87 to establish the Navab Fellowship Program, which will provide funding for 40 full-time Columbia College student internships with non-profit and for-profit organizations annually beginning in Summer 2019.
The program builds upon and elevates the Columbia College Alumni-Sponsored Student Internship Program (CCASSIP), which was launched in the summer of 2012 as a partnership between the Columbia College Alumni Association and the Center for Career Education. CCASSIP connects College students with alumni seeking summer interns in a variety of fields and industries. The College will officially rename CCASSIP to the Navab Fellowship Program, and the funding from the Navabs’ gift will support the enhancement and ongoing growth of the program.
“Columbia College played a formative role in Alex’s education and life, and he is a phenomenal supporter of liberal arts education as well as being an advocate for exploring intellectual and career passions,” said James J. Valentini, dean of Columbia College and vice president for undergraduate education. “This program will further the impact on students, faculty and alumni for many years to come and supports the College’s broader strategic plan."
A University Trustee since 2017, Alex Navab is the founder and CEO of the private investment firm Navab Holdings and is the former head of the Americas Private Equity Business at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR). Navab graduated from the College with honors as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. He received the College’s John Jay Award for distinguished professional achievement in 2011 and received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2016. He served as a member on the College’s Board of Visitors (2005–2017) and as its chair (2014–2016), and is currently co-chair of the Core to Commencement Campaign Committee.
“Our goal with this Fellowship Program is to provide supplemental means for students who are interested in pursuing internships that truly interest them and help them make a real impact on society,” said Navab. “Young people want to explore their interests before selecting career, so we felt establishing this program was a way to enabling a more effective philanthropic giving plan to the College and its students.”
For the summer of 2019, the Navab Fellowship Program will fund 40 students, with plans to grow the number of fellowships offered each year. By guaranteeing College students equal access to high-quality internship placements, regardless of financial circumstances or background, this program advances the College’s strategic plan and the Dean’s goal of providing a funded summer experience for each College student.
The Navab Fellowship Program will source internship opportunities via the College alumni network and the broader University global alumni network. Fellowship awards will cover all relevant expenses during students’ internships including, but not limited to, travel and living expenses, as well as work exemptions for students on financial aid. Fellows will also have access to a College alumni mentor and development opportunities such as: a pre-internship orientation, including professional skills workshops; a mid-summer check-in to discuss the internship experience; a one-on-one career counseling appointment; and special networking events.
The Navab Fellowship Program will enable students to explore potential career paths, gain essential professional skills and expand their personal networks in preparation for life after graduation. After completing their internships, fellows will work with advisers and each other to reflect on their summer experience through the My Columbia College Journey tool.
Columbia College alumni interested in learning more about how to hire a Navab Fellow for a 2019 summer internship are encouraged to contact Navab Fellows Program Manager Laura Maltz.