Is your student interested in fellowships?By Forrest Ingalls and Chelsea Rothe
WWU Viking Launch interns
Each year, scores of students meet with Christine Compston, WWU's fellowships advisor, who oversees the university's Fellowships Office, but few students are driven enough to apply for a nationally competitive scholarship or fellowship.
"Whether they win a fellowship or not," she adds, "those who do apply learn valuable skills and often figure out how they want to use their education after they graduate."
WWU junior Paul Wanzek, of
Hood River, Ore., is studying
environmental science and
conducting research in New
Zealand with the help of the
Gilman International Scholarship.
Compston guides students through the process of applying for big-name awards like Fulbrights, as well as lesser-known honors such as the Nicholl Fellowship for screenwriters. The Fellowships Office website includes a lengthy list of all types of awards.
Since the Fellowships Office began three years ago, Compston says, over a dozen WWU students have won awards.
Most awards support further study domestically or abroad for nine months to two years, during which students pursue their dreams and expand their horizons.
Students with strong academic records are encouraged to visit the Fellowships Office early in their college experience to learn about the opportunities available and how best to prepare themselves to become strong candidates.
Compston offers some advice for families whose students may be interested in applying for these awards:
- Provide students with encouragement, but not too much. It can take about 40 hours over two to three months just to apply for these fellowships – students must really want to do it themselves.
- Families "can plant a seed," to spark students' interest in fellowships, Compston says. And she is more than happy to water it, tend it, and watch that seed grow.
- Encourage students to think broadly and be open-minded, as this will open them up to the kinds of opportunities that can become a reality through fellowships.
- Encourage students to be involved in both the community and campus life; the experience is valuable – and makes them more impressive candidates for fellowships.
- Support them as much as possible with financial assistance.
To learn more about the Fellowships program, including the wide variety of awards available and stories about previous recipients, visit www.wwu.edu/fellowships.