Students win fellowships

Sunday was not the last day of school for four seniors who will call the University home for at least a few more years, after receiving full-tuition scholarships to GW graduate schools this month.

Emmanuella Duplessy, Madeline LePage, Alicia O’Neil and Nicolas Vikstrom were named the 2002 Presidential Administrative Fellows. The fellowship includes 42 free credits toward a degree from a GW graduate school, except the medical and law schools, and requires the student to work in a University office.

Peter Konwerski, executive director of student activities, said 78 graduating seniors applied for the fellowship this year, which is open to any senior planning on going to graduate school.

He said there is “no set criteria” for evaluating applicants.

“The individuals who apply don’t have to be student leaders, but they need to be well-rounded with good academics and contribute to the GW or local community,” he said.

Current fellow Jeff Marootian said applicants need to demonstrate a commitment to the University.

Konwerski said he initially reviews each student’s application and conducts a screening interview with current PAF students to eliminate some applicants. This year, he said 28 names passed from the screening interview to a faculty and staff committee where a second interview determines students’ personal goals and career plans.

“The committee considers the students’ contributions to the University,” Konwerski said. “Many have received classroom honors or excellence at work, such as from a congressional office.”

University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg and Vice President for Student and Academic Support Services Robert Chernak review the final applicant pool, and Trachtenberg makes the final selections, Konwerski said.

Winners receive a housing stipend for an apartment in the D.C. area and a monthly monetary stipend.

Konwerski said different GW departments describe positions they are offering to students, and PAF applicants are matched with their interests and career goals. Students are also individually interviewed by the various departments.

Vikstrom, a criminal justice major and psychology minor, will receive a master’s degree in public administration next spring as a PAF student in a five-year program. A member of the mens’ tennis team and Project Exploration participant, Vikstrom said he will intern with the Secret Service this summer. He is still interviewing for several PAF work positions.

He said he was not expecting to win the award, but thinks he is well qualified.

“I have a great desire to make GW the best it can be,” he said. “The fellowship will add tremendously to my program and remaining year at GW.”

Duplessy, an American Studies major, said she would have gone to law school if she had not received the PAF award. She will work in the Office of International, Government and Corporate Affairs as she pursues a master’s in public administration.

Duplessy also received the 2002 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for service in human rights. She is a member of the Black Student Union and Zeta Phi Beta sorority and has helped plan Midnight Breakfast, Soul Revue and Black History Month celebrations.

“There were so many good applicants in the pool,” she said. “I think I was given this award because I deserved it. I am a visible student leader on campus and this award is another way that GW thanks its students for their contributions.”

O’Neil said she is also looking forward to the fellowship and will work in the Vice President and Treasurer’s Office while pursuing a master’s in business administration. O’Neil has been involved in the Program Board throughout her undergraduate years and this year served as PB chair.

Marootian called his first year as a fellow “outstanding.” He said he worked as a research assistant for the National Clearinghouse for Comprehensive School Reform in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

“It’s been great to have the opportunity to have two more years at GW,” Marootian said.

There are four PAF fellows graduating this year with six continuing in the program.

-Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.

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