3 Reasons to Apply for Prestigious Fellowships/Scholarships (Besides Winning)

The process of applying to prestigious fellowships and scholarships is more than an opportunity to gain funding to further your education. Indeed, completing the application in and of itself is a great way to develop your personal and professional skills.

To gain perspective on some of the benefits one can get from the act of applying to prestigious fellowships/scholarships, we interviewed Leondre Ramsay, Howard University’s 2017 Luard Morse Scholarship recipient.

Below are three reasons we think applicants should focus more on the application process than the end result of becoming a recipient or semi-finalist:

  1. “Know Thyself” (aka) Identify Your Goals with Specificity

The level of self-reflection required to create accurate and persuasive personal statements can sometimes take a back burner to the rigors of academic life. Applying to a prestigious fellowship/scholarship tends to kick start this reflective process for most students. Particularly, if you let your application reflect who you truly are.

Leondre notes, “…writing the essays was primarily an introspective process… [I] genuinely examined my own motivations for studying abroad as well as why the UK [would be] the best place to do so…” Of course, this is a skill you can build on your own, but why not develop it while competing for funding to pursue your independently-designed project or advance academic study?

If you take the time to reflect upon what it is that most speaks to who you are and most nourishes you in your various activities and pursuits, you will be able to clarify your direction in life, and reveal the steps you should follow to achieve your goals.


Leondre Ramsay_Better Pic

  1. Develop Your Written and Verbal Communication Skills

Your personal essays and research proposals both provide opportunities for you to develop your written communication skills. Working with Howard University’s Office of Honors and Scholar Development (OHSD) to improve your essays for submission tend to have positive effects on your writing. Additionally, the selection process for prestigious national fellowships normally involves interviews for finalists. The verbal communications skills you stand to gain from preparing for the interview will help equip you to speak effectively about your ideas and goals.


  1. Expand Your Mental Horizon

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ~Albert Einstein

One of the greatest benefits you can gain from your undergraduate college experience is an expanded mental outlook. A way to accomplish this is by being open to various opportunities that would take you outside of your comfort zone. One such option is international travel/study abroad.

As Leondre notes, “studying abroad is a great [way] for us to interact with the world that exists beyond our own borders.” Many prestigious fellowships, including the Luard Morse Scholarship, offer funding to study outside of your home country. However, expanding your mental horizon occurs as early as when you begin considering options that move you outside of our comfort zone – like study abroad – and weave them into your personal narrative. Just believing you can is beneficial.

So, the next time you think about applying to a prestigious fellowship or scholarship opportunity, but are deterred by the fear of not becoming a recipient or finalist, think about how much who stand to gain from the process and dive in!

As Leondre said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t shoot…. Uncertainty can’t become a barrier for us to avoid opportunities.”

Well said, Leondre.





Mariah Levy: HBCU Bridge Scholarship at the University of Chicago, 2016-2017

Program Information: HBCU Bridge Scholarship to UC

My name is Mariah Levy, and currently, I’m fortunate enough to be an HBCU Bridge Scholar at the University of Chicago (through the Graham School of Continuing Studies). The program provides Hgraham1fullBCU graduates with a scholarship to take two courses per quarter at the university for one academic year (six courses total). We are considered graduate students at-large (GSAL). It basically means that while we aren’t in any specific degree program, we take the same graduate courses (under the same faculty) as degree-seeking students.
This experience has been extremely rewarding. We have regular check-ins as a cohort with our advisors, Graham School administration, international GSAL students, and HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institution) Scholars. My cohort is supportive of my journey, as well as the graduate students in degree programs. During my first quarter, I went to Graduate Council meetings, and contributed as much as anyone else in the program. I feel connected to the university, and I’m building a network that will last beyond my experience as an HBCU Bridge scholar.
The program is designed to expose HBCU and HSI students to graduate school before making the mental, financial, or time commitment. After graduating from Howard’s philosophy department, I knew I could take many paths. And this program allows me to sample many of them in a short time span, without the stress of financial burden. I think that this experience was also instrumental in securing employment this year, and being accepted into a degree program at NYU. I’m still waiting to hear from other schools (including UChicago), but right now I’m one for one!
I would do it again, and I recommend anyone who isn’t sure of their next steps to apply at the very least.

Kayla Mann: Apple HBCU Scholars Program, Summer 2016

Program Information: Apple HBCU Scholars Program

This past summer, I was fortunate to be one of 33 members of the inaugural class of Apple HBCU Scholars. The program is an initiative between Apple and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund aimed at exposing HBCU students to different careers in the technology sector. However, unlike most of my fellow scholars, I spent my 12-week summer internship in a non-headshottechnical field.

As a marketing major, I found myself working in the Employee Engagement & Events space, which allowed me to work on everything from the project management of different event experiences to helping relaunch and redesign how Apple approaches celebrating diversity & inclusion. Not to mention, I recently had the chance to see some of my recommendations come to life at the largest technical conference for women in the world so to say my time at Apple was exciting is an understatement. The program also allowed me to network with many of the top Apple executives and provided me with a few mentors that have been dedicated to helping me professionally as well as personally, even after the conclusion of my internship.
Although the application for the 2017 class of scholars has already closed, Apple is still accepting applications for its traditional internship program and the application for the 2018 class of scholars will open again in August.

Temilayo Butler: Goldman Sachs Scholarship/Internship – Summer 2016

Temilayo Butler: Goldman Sachs Scholarship/Internship – Summer 2016

Student Spotlight: Temilayo Butler, Senior, International Business Major/German Minor, School of Business Executive Leadership (SBEL) Honors Program

Goldman Sachs: Internship Opportunities

Internship Deadline to Apply: Varies by job function

This past summer Temilayo Butler  completed a summer internship at Goldman Sachs in their Sales and Trading division. The summer began with two weeks of training about the group and the internship process. Butler then had several desk rotations sitting with Futures Traders, Emerging Markets, Fixed Income Sales Traders, and the Client Relationship Management Strategy Team. Through these roles, Butler was tasked with responsibilities that included client solicitation materials, updating client lists, creating transaction proposals, structuring, pricing, marketing, financing and more.

The program included presentations, panels, and lunches or dinners hosted by senior managers. Butler reflected, “I had the opportunity to participate in small group assignments that involve research, presentations, and networking. In addition to this, I was fortunate enough to receive a full-time offer at the conclusion of my internship”. Goldman Sachs is a corporate sponsor of the School of Business Honors Program and holds several events throughout the year. Be sure to check on Bison CareerLink as well as their company website for internship and full time job positions!

Malcolm Thomas:UC Davis Summer 2016 Research Engagement Experience

Malcolm Thomas:UC Davis Summer 2016 Research Engagement Experience

Student Spotlight: Malcolm Thomas, Junior, Political Science/Economics Major, College of Arts & Sciences (COAS) Honors Program

UC Davis Summer Research Engagement Experience: Program Information

Application Deadline: November 1st

Malcolm Thomas is a Junior Political Science and Economics Major from Lakeland, Florida. This past summer Malcolm had the opportunity to participate in the UC Davis Summer Research Engagement Experience. At UC Davis, he worked with a faculty member on  research concerning the shortage of attorneys in rural areas. He was also able to devise his own research project that focused on identifying the education disparities experienced by minorities living in rural areas. In addition to this valuable research experience, Malcolm was able to attend several professional developmental workshops, attend different events with professionals in his field, and even visit UC Berkeley. Malcolm expressed, “I left UC Davis with a much better understanding of not just getting in to graduate school, but how to effectively navigate within that space. I also got the chance to have fun with the colleagues in my cohort and expand my network with esteemed faculty members from both UC Davis and Berkeley”.

In order to get in the program, Malcolm recommends starting the application process early. He obtained both of his recommendations long before the application was due. He also made sure to get his essay proof-read by three different sources to ensure that he articulated himself in the most concise and impactful way possible. If you are interested in earning a Ph.D. in the future or simply want to see if research is for you, the UC Davis Summer Research Engagement Experience may be the right summer enrichment program for you!