How to Win a Fellowship
Smiths 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 200203.
Whats contributed to this distinctive rate of success is the Office of International Studys 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 preparationcareful reflection about ones academic ambition and the search for the right fellowship programbefore 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. Its 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 professors 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 Smiths 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.