Learning about funding

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU.edu
Vanesha Blackburn, left, and Alita Reneau hold signs for their study abroad programs after receiving scholarships to obtain their passports.


GVL / Courtesy – GVSU.edu Vanesha Blackburn, left, and Alita Reneau hold signs for their study abroad programs after receiving scholarships to obtain their passports.

Drew Schertzer

A fellowship is a competitive scholarship for underprivileged or very intelligent students. They can help students get internships, study abroad and do many other things that may have been impossible otherwise.

To explain more about how fellowships work and how to get one, Lauren Presutti, a graduate assistant in the Frederik Meijer Office of Fellowships (FMOF), and Stephanie Elizondo, a CSAL graduate intern at FMOF, hosted a workshop Thursday, Jan. 26. The event, “Back to Basics: What and Where are Fellowships?” took place in the Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof Center from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. During this time, Presutti and Elizondo explained the essential information of how to get fellowships and why they matter.

Presutti thinks fellowships are important and can assist students in their professional careers.

“These opportunities we provide undoubtedly work toward students’ professional and personal development,” Presutti said. “A lot of students that haven’t been outside the state can now go study abroad or internship out of state.”

Fellowships are available through many different government agencies, and the staff at FMOF can help students with their essays and letters of recommendation. From there, students have a chance to win scholarships and pursue a dream they maybe couldn’t before.

For example, one GVSU student who was the recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, Vanesha Blackburn, was able to go to Ghana because of the money she received. It was the first time Blackburn had ever flown in a plane, and during the trip, she was able to connect with her heritage and her ancestors’ past.

Elizondo is a strong proponent of fellowships and helping students like Blackburn.

“Students have so much to offer the world,” Elizondo said. “With the scholarship, students can enhance their skills and learn pro skills, opening the door to opportunities they would otherwise not have.”

Each month, a new workshop will take place. This month’s workshop covered the basics of what FMOF does, while next month’s will be about professional skills, such as how to write a personal statement, Elizondo said.

Elizondo and Presutti decided with the number of students who come in for advising every day, the workshops would be a way to reach out to many students at once. At the Back to Basics workshop, Presutti and Elizondo showed a PowerPoint presentation offering tips and displaying what FMOF can do for students. They talked about when students can come in or how to make appointments and how to fill out applications.

Presutti said she helped develop the workshops to expand the scope of her office and to make the step of coming into the office less intimidating. Presutti wants students to feel comfortable in the process so they can have an opportunity to access the scholarships.

“We want students to discover a new career or a new passion,” Presutti said. “Even if it is a research internship over the summer, AmeriCorps or Teach for America.”

For more information about fellowships, visit www.gvsu.edu/fellowships.