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Melanie Oliva ’18 reports on the fellowships panel

By Kim Germain on June 30, 2017

The following post was contributed by Melanie Oliva ’18, an English major and anthropology minor. She is an editorial intern in the Office of Communications and in the Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships.

What You Gain from Applying to Fellowships and Scholarships

Students joined us on June 22 to hear about fellowship opportunities as part of the Summer Research Lunchtime Discussion Series. Panelists included Dean Germain, Professor Jonathan Levine, Professor Jason Keith, Professor Claire Baldwin, Professor Georgia Frank, and Amanda Liberman ’17, who was recently awarded a Fulbright grant to teach English in Kazakhstan. Each panelist had unique insights into the application processes for a wide variety of fellowships.

After graduating from college, Professor Levine decided to pursue opportunities that would make him a well-rounded applicant for graduate school. He applied for and won the Rhodes Scholarship, and used it to earn a second bachelor’s degree in geology at Oxford University. Professor Levine described how the application process was just as rewarding as winning the scholarship. Applying for prestigious scholarships is project of sitting down with yourself and deciding what you want to do with the next few years of your life. It makes you articulate what you’re interested in, why you’re interested in it, and what you want to do with those interests.

Professor Keith was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship for his study of chemistry when he was a junior in college, and he now sits on the Colgate committee for the Goldwater. The Goldwater Scholarship is open to sophomores and juniors who are planning to have research careers in mathematics and sciences. Professor Keith learned how to market himself and his interests through the application process. Through applying to the Goldwater Scholarship, he was better able to understand how to explain his own research and how to have others understand its importance.

Professor Baldwin, who sits on the Colgate committee for the Fulbright scholarship, has seen students grow through the Fulbright application and interview processes. She saw how one of her students learned a lot about herself through applying to an English Teaching Assistant Award as part of the Fulbright program. That student was able to craft a unique story about herself in her application, tying together her interests in German and Arabic languages and her prior experiences with study abroad and working with refugees in Utica to explain her passion for engaging with cultures outside of her own and her goal to work with with Arabic-speaking refugees in Germany while serving as a Fulbright ETA there.

Amanda Liberman ‘17, who will soon embark on her Fulbright to teach English in Kazakhstan, knew that she wanted to go to Kazakhstan after graduating from Colgate but didn’t know how she would get there. Fellowships and scholarships were a way for her to reach this goal. She met with Dean Germain in the Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships to work on her applications to multiple fellowship and scholarship programs. She was able to work with Dean Germain to refine her personal essays and found a lot of support from her professors as she began to ask for letters of recommendation. The Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships provides all students with support, from brainstorming initial ideas to crafting drafts of applications and solidifying recommendations from professors and mentors.

Finally, Professor Frank spoke about the regrets she has about never applying to a fellowship when she was in college. She spoke to how she was too nervous to stray from her path, which she knew would lead to graduate school. She went to graduate school immediately after college, never thinking about how fellowship opportunities could deepen her interests. Today, she sees how her students have been able to take advantage of a year off from school and careers to pursue a passion, be it big or small. She encouraged all of the students at the panel to meet with Kim Germain in the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships to talk about opportunities available to them.

All of the panelists agreed that applying to national fellowships and scholarships was a pivotal way to learn more about themselves and move towards their future goals. Through applying, they were better able to understand themselves as inquisitive and interesting people. They were also better equipped to understand what they wanted to learn next and why they wanted to learn it.

It was great to hear from professors across many different departments. Fellowships and scholarships aren’t limited to one department or one type of student; if you have an interest that you’re willing to engage with in a meaningful way, there is an opportunity that will be waiting for your application.

To learn more about fellowship and scholarship opportunities, visit www.colgate.edu/academics/fellowships-scholarships, email onfs@colgate.edu, or call 315-228-6224.


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