Workshop provides students with scholarship opportunities

GVL / Emma Moulton

Fellowships Graduate Assistant Gary King speaks at the Fellowships 101 Workshop on Thursday.

Emma Moulton

GVL / Emma Moulton Fellowships Graduate Assistant Gary King speaks at the Fellowships 101 Workshop on Thursday.

Jackie Smith

Have you ever been interested in fellowships? Have you ever wondered what a fellowship was, or had questions about pursuing one?

Grand Valley State University hosted a workshop on Feb. 21 called “Fellowships 101” to answer those questions and much more.

The Frederik Meijer Office of Fellowships explains fellowship as “highly selective funding opportunities for students to pursue study, public, or foreign service opportunities, research opportunities, and more at both the undergraduate and graduate level in both the U.S and abroad.

They reward past performance including stellar grades, leadership, community service, campus involvement, research, and more, and can be springboards to greater opportunities.”

Amanda Cuevas, director of the Frederik Meijer Office of Fellowships, said Fellowship 101 workshops are intended to introduce students to the world of nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships to help students start preparing now. Pursuit of some of the awards, she said, make take several years for students to garner the experiences needed to meet award criteria.

She said since the rederik Meijer Office of Fellowships opened in December 2009, GVSU students have been awarded over $500,000 in nationally competitive awards.

“Receipt of these prestigious awards can open even greater doors of opportunity for students in the future,” Cuevas said. “For example, our Hollings scholarship recipient has received a full ride to multiple top-tier PhD programs for next year.”

Each award has its own application process, and Cuevas said it’s the kind of process students should take seriously.

“You do need to plan ahead,” she said. “In order to compete at the national level, you need ample time to create a successful application.”

Applications also require recommendation letters from faculty members, somethings Cuevas said is an incentive for students to get to know their professors and faculty members.

“Typically, for these awards, you need three letters of recommendation,” Cuevas said. “Faculty need to be able to talk about you and your potential as a scholar, how engaged you are in class, and how involved you are outside of class.”

Alyssa Franklin, a GVSU sophomore, said that she is looking into study abroad fellowship opportunities to help her in the future.

“The more experience you have, the better off you’ll be,” Franklin said. “Fellowships will help me teach more diverse groups of kids, since I’m going into education.”

Brad Mueller, also a GVSU sophomore, said he hopes to continue pursuing his major through fellowships like these.

“I’m a Spanish major, so I am definitely looking at multiple study abroad opportunities,” Mueller said. “I need money to make those happen, so scholarships and fellowships are where I need to be.”

On March 28, the Frederik Meijer Office of Fellowships will host an informational session on the Fulbright award, and a workshop titled “Writing Compelling Personal Statements for Nationally Competitive Awards” on April 5.

“Students who want to learn more are strongly encouraged to first explore the Fellowships Finder under the ‘Award Opportunities’ tab at (the Office of Fellowships website),” Cuevas said. “The Fellowships Finder is a good, though non-exhaustive, starting point for students to see what kinds of nationally competitive award opportunities exist.”

Students interested in fellowships can also take advantage of the Winter 2013 walk-in advising hours, which are on Thursdays from 1-4 p.m. in The Honors College, room 120. For more information, visit their website at

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