GW Brief: High number of applicants for prestigious grants

The number of applicants for prestigious student research grants has more than doubled since the University created an office dedicated to aiding in the application process.

There were 305 applicants for national undergraduate fellowships last year, more than double the 2003-2004 academic year’s amount, said Francis DuVinage, the director of the Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research.

The number of students who won awards in this same time period rose from 18 to 43.

“We’re trying to be a central place for students to learn about these opportunities,” DuVinage said.

The center’s first job is to get the word out to students about scholarships and fellowships that are widely available. The center hands out information at Colonial Inauguration and follows up with information sessions, e-mails and flyers throughout the year. The center then matches interested students with programs that fit their qualifications, goals and interests, DuVinage said.

DuVinage and his staff met with about 500 students individually last year.

“A lot if it is one-on-one. It’s a rather long process,” he said.

Additionally, a high number of GW students are winning some of the most well-known and respected awards more frequently than students at other colleges and universities.

GW has ranked high among universities with the most student winners of the National Security Education Program’s David L. Boren Scholarship, a scholarship designed to help students who want to study abroad in areas especially important to U.S. interests.

GW has had 14 Boren winners in the past three years, placing the University within in the top five in the country for number of Boren winners, DuVinage said.

Applicants for Fulbright scholarships – another program designed for students seeking to study internationally – have increased from 14 in 2003 to 30 this year. Despite having just two winners in 2007, 24 GW students have received Fulbright scholarships in the past four years.

Sophomore Kim Turley studied abroad last summer in China on a Boren scholarship after she noticed the scholarship listed in an e-mail from the center.

“I never would have known about the scholarship, much less had it together enough to apply in my freshman year without their help,” Turley wrote in an e-mail. “They are great about pointing you to programs that you’re well suited for, and they help you every step of the way.”

Senior Kathryn Nash was chosen as an alternate for a Boren scholarship but was unable to travel to Kenya because of a travel warning. Despite the setback, she views the experience overall as beneficial.

“Applying for any type of scholarship or job regardless of whether or not you receive it is beneficial . with every application you are able to hone basic skills, such as writing project proposals and cover letters or creating a resume,” Nash said.

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