This winter, APS Development Assistant Erin Seamans spoke with Jessica Rodríguex about the Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship program, a scholarship program run by the American Philatelic Society. YPLF supports young philatelists, offers them unique opportunities to attend stamp shows across the country, and connects them with experienced mentors in the philatelic world.
Jessica Rodriguex graduated with the YPLF Class of 2017 as a Lauson H. Stone Fellow. She completed the Exhibitor track with her mentors, Denise and Jay Stotts.
Erin: Why did you choose to apply for YPLF and what did you expect to accomplish?
Jessica Rodríguex: I learned about the YPLF program from an ad placed in the WESTPEX show program. As a new philatelist, I was excited about the opportunity to learn more about the hobby. I was interested in exhibiting but felt very intimidated and overwhelmed by the process.
E: What did you learn about philately through YPLF? Can you recall a moment or memory from your time as a Fellow that was significant in your learning process?
J: The most memorable event during my fellowship year was our trip to the National Postal Museum. During this trip I was able to learn more about the scientific aspects of philately. I found this to be very exciting!
The expertise of others is invaluable and has fueled my passion for philately.
Jessica with her fiance, Ryan Wellmaker, also a YPLF alumni.
In what ways have you been involved in the philatelic community since graduating from YPLF?
Since graduating from the program, I have remained very involved in philately. I was the Chairman of Filatelic Fiesta, a WSP show for two years. I am currently the Chairman of the United States Philatelic Classics Society & Postal History Symposium which will occur in late October at the American Philatelic Center. I am also a board member for the USPCS. In my free time, I actively work to expand my exhibit.
What did you learn during your time as a Fellow that serves your involvement in the hobby today?
During my fellowship year I made networking a priority. The philatelic community has endless knowledge – some of which cannot be found in literature. The YPLF program gave me the platform to connect with other philatelists. I was encouraged and welcomed by the philatelic community. This was important for me because the hobby can appear intimidating to an outsider looking in.
The YPLF program helped facilitate introductions to other philatelists. Today, I maintain these friendships.
What is your current career and does it have a connection with stamp collecting? What drew you to work in these positions?
I am currently pursuing my Masters in Counseling Psychology at Northwestern University. I will graduate this summer. I am currently working with special population, primarily those who are released from the prison system. My current career is not directly related to philately, however philately is an important part of my self-care regimen, which is imperative to preventing burn out!
The YPLF program gave me the platform to connect with other philatelists. I was encouraged and welcomed by the philatelic community. This was important for me because the hobby can appear intimidating to an outsider looking in.
How has your time as a Fellow informed your work in the field you are in?
Philately is a hobby which requires a great deal of patience. I have learned to appreciate “the hunt” and developed my ability to be patient.
What would you say to someone considering joining YPLF?
Do it – you won’t regret it! I wish I could do it again!
Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience of fellows, alumni, donors, and potential applicants?
Denise and Jay Stotts were my mentors during my fellowship year. They were absolutely amazing!! They challenged and encouraged me to expand my philatelic knowledge. I recently saw Denise and Jay at Garfield-Perry and was reminded how incredibly thankful I am for them. I am also appreciative of my sponsors, Harlan F. Stone and Helen M. Galatan-Stone, who made it possible for me to have this opportunity.
Are you wondering if you or someone you know should apply for the Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship Program? Check out the exciting perks of being a Fellow!
- Receive a one-year APS membership
- Choose an area of interest: Author, Curator, Dealer, Designer, Exhibitor & Analyst
- Learn from an adult mentor
- Attend the Great American Stamp Show and Spring Meeting
- Attend Summer Seminar on Philately at the American Philatelic Center
- Interact with stamp collectors from around the United States