Pacific students open up new worlds by applying for fellowships

Amy Wyckoff ’15 was able to connect her international education to the real world, and in the process helped displaced Venezuelans to find work in Colombia.

Pacific students open up new worlds by applying for fellowships

Fulfilling research, travel abroad, life-altering reflection and a chance to help people around the world are just some of the rewards awaiting Pacific students who successfully apply for any of several national fellowships.

In her second year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Latin America, Pacific alumna Amy Wyckoff '15 recalled seizing an opportunity to help people in need that connected her international education to the real world.

"Living in Medellin, Colombia, I have gained a new perspective on the economic situation in neighboring Venezuela and how many people have had to leave their homes in search of new opportunities," Wyckoff said of that nation's economic crisis. "A colleague and I came up with a way to help people by providing free job search workshops to Venezuelan refugees. It has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life."

Each year Pacific students can seek their own life-altering experiences by applying for myriad scholarships to enrich their academic and professional careers. Perhaps the most significant scholarship programs - Fulbright, Boren, and the Critical Language Scholarship - are for undergraduate and post-graduate study abroad in languages, culture, sciences, technology, engineering, education, public health and more.

Successful applicants are typically intellectually curious, have been involved in research or done a major, in-depth project in their field, shown persistence, have started, created or made something significant in their communities or maintained a high GPA while on an athletic team, said Susan Weiner, Pacific's fellowship adviser.

"When more and more people apply, then more and more people alter what their life path could be because of the scholarship," Weiner said. "It just gets you to think differently about where you're heading professionally and what you can include in your life and in your four years of college."

The scholarship application process is rigorous and begins with a one-on-one meeting with Weiner to outline a student's next steps. From meeting with faculty members, writing essays, applying for a fellowship is no small feat. But with the hard work comes a tremendous opportunity for self-reflection, even if applicants do not win a scholarship.

For international relations major Christina Bouri '20, applying for the Boren and Critical Language scholarships gave her the opportunity to strengthen her critical thinking and professional writing skills.

"The CLS required writing based around my abilities as an applicant, whereas the Boren required me to write about what I knew about the program and my country of choice," Bouri said.

In applying for the Boren, she discovered her passion for Middle Eastern politics, which is now one of her top choices as a field of study in graduate school. Although she did not receive a scholarship, Bouri is determined to enrich her life and advance her education and is spending the year in Jordan to do that.

For Wyckoff, her time spent as a Fulbright Scholar has "shown me firsthand how powerful a tool education is for creating a more equal world."

Wyckoff has decided to pursue a career in education policy because of this opportunity. She encouraged Pacific students to apply for these scholarships because it will help them learn how to face challenges that appear daunting at first and trust in their own merit and capability.

As for the help available at Pacific for students interested in applying for a fellowship, both Bouri and Wyckoff said Weiner was instrumental in their application process.

"After some great advice from Dr. Weiner, I learned to think about my essay on a smaller scale," Wyckoff said. "I decided to focus on a single pivotal day during my time as a teacher in Mexico. By detailing this experience, I was able to convey my interests and personality through the essay. Sometimes inspiration can come at unexpected times and you really have to see where it takes you."

The scholarship applications also require diligent time management and planning ahead, other potential challenges for students.

"Having the help of Weiner made everything much easier," Bouri said. "She gave me a timeline from the start of the application process."

Weiner, Wyckoff and Bouri all emphasized that much of the value lies in the process itself, which helps students put their career goals into perspective and offers something more significant than a traditional academic course load.

"The Fulbright grant has led me to so many incredible experiences and allowed me to connect with people I never would have met otherwise," Wyckoff said.


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