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How to Win a Fellowship

Smith’s top scholars have been on a roll recently, winning some of the most prestigious scholarly prizes awarded to undergraduates and alumnae. The awards, announced in spring 2002, were an unprecedented total of five Fulbrights, one Truman, one Mellon, one DAAD and a Rhodes Scholar finalist. Most awards are for the academic year 2002–03.

What’s contributed to this distinctive rate of success is the Office of International Study’s new fellowships program, designed to help academically motivated students develop winning applications. According to Don Andrew, coordinator for fellowships and grants, competing for a prestigious award requires preparation—careful reflection about one’s academic ambition and the search for the right fellowship program—before developing an application and requesting letters of recommendation.

As Andrew sees it, his job is to get Smith women in the final round of competition for the fellowships they seek while guiding them through the process. His office currently runs 12 support programs on campus (for 12 fellowships) and matches serious applicants with faculty mentors who help shape application essays and project proposals.

Completing an application is “a feat in itself,” Andrew says. It is an arduous procedure that requires learning a new set of skills. “It’s about learning the art of self-presentation,” he explains, “and of honing your academic focus as to how you aim to a make a difference in the world.” Proven intellectual and academic achievement is necessary, he says, as is integrity of character, the ability to lead, a commitment to public service and a desire to make a contribution to society.
Andrew extols the faculty members who volunteer to serve as fellowship mentors and those who volunteer to draft recommendation letters for aspiring fellows. A well-crafted recommendation letter, referring to the abilities and accomplishments of an applicant, requires a professor’s time and reflection. “The faculty mentors play a huge role in seeing these applications through the process,” he says. “Their responsiveness to students and their thoroughness in following through with students to make their applications as perfect as each student is capable of -- is one of the big reasons we were so successful this year.”

Katrina Gardner ’00 was a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship (for study at Oxford University) and can claim the distinction of being Smith’s first American Rhodes finalist on record. Her mentor was Peter de Villiers, Sophia and Austin Smith Professor of Psychology. Nicole Wallace ’02 was named an alternate scholar for a Fulbright fellowship in Iceland and was mentored by Joe McVeigh.

Students interested in fellowships ideally begin the pursuit in February each year. For more information, contact Don Andrew at

2002–03 Fellowship Winners

Fulbright fellowship for one year of study and research abroad
• Meghan Andrew ’02, Education: study of the integration of immigrant children into classrooms, Spain (mentor: Greg White, associate professor of government)
• Amy Liu ’02, International Relations: potential impact of European Union (E.U.) membership on agriculture, Hungary (mentor: Greg White)
• Elizabeth Mayer ’02, Public Health: the women’s AIDS project, Morocco (mentor: Greg White)
• Mara Taylor ’02, Education: teaching English as a second language, Germany (mentor: Joe McVeigh, associate professor of German studies)
• Jennifer Weedon ’02, Political Science: combating the trafficking of women, Ukraine (mentor: Greg White)

Truman fellowship for graduate study leading to a public service career
• Megan Jamieson ’03J (mentors: Don Robinson, Charles N. Clark Professor of Government, and Don Baumer, professor of government)

Mellon Fellow for a humanities doctorate for a teaching career
• Amanda Izzo ’99 (mentor: Justina Gregory, professor of classical languages and literatures)

DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Fellow for one year of study in Germany
• Emily Evans ’02, translation and theatre studies (mentor: Joe McVeigh)

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