Working together to uphold and encourage student achievement is the overarching goal of the Center for Fellowship and Scholarship Advising (CFSA). Established in 2012, it provides information, mentoring, and support for students and alumni interested in applying for national scholarships and fellowships, including such renowned awards as the Fulbright, Rhodes, and Truman, as well as a wealth of other opportunities offered by private foundations and government agencies in diverse fields and countries. Co-directed by Kate Hanson and Judith O’Rourke ’75, G’10, CFSA offers information sessions, writing workshops, and one-on-one consultations throughout the academic year. The center also collaborates with some 50 staff and faculty mentors across campus to get the word out about scholarships and fellowships, match students with the opportunities that best meet their goals and capabilities, and guide them through the application process. “It’s important to emphasize the role of faculty in this process,” says Hanson, assistant director of scholarship and fellowship preparation in the Renée Crown University Honors Program . “They are the ones who mentor students and direct their research and make sure they are aware of the big and small opportunities. So they play a critical role in preparing students to be successful in their applications.”
Faculty also help identify the University’s shining stars and hidden gems, including exceptional students like John Giammatteo ’11, Syracuse’s first recipient of the highly selective Marshall Scholarship. His volunteer experience with a refugee family during the summer before his sophomore year at Syracuse ignited a passionate interest in forced migration and led him to study abroad in India, collaborative research in Thailand, and, eventually, graduate studies in global migration and Southeast Asia studies in London. He urged other students to seek out opportunities through the CFSA. “Preparing for these scholarships is instrumental and is a means rather than an end,” says Giammatteo, who went on to study law at Yale University after he graduated from Syracuse.
One of our goals now is to reach students as early as possible in their time at Syracuse, making sure they take full advantage of all the resources we have here.
O’Rourke, too, affirms the value of the application process, even in those cases when students aren’t selected to win awards. “Applying for these scholarships can be a culmination of a student’s academic program and a stepping stone to the next phase, whether in another academic area, such as a master’s or Ph.D. degree, or a job,” says O’Rourke, director of undergraduate studies. As an example, she points to Natascha Trellinger ’13, a College of Engineering and Computer Science graduate. Although Trellinger wasn’t awarded the Fulbright she sought, the application process helped clarify her goals and contributed to her acceptance at Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education, where she recieved a doctoral fellowship. “So it’s not just about completing applications or getting scholarships,” O’Rourke says, “but about how to help students have the best experience they can at Syracuse University, so they are positioned for the next stage to really succeed and make a contribution.”
Since the center was established, increased numbers of Syracuse students and alumni are applying for and winning prestigious scholarships. For example, the University was named by the Fulbright program as a top-producing institution of U.S. Fulbright students in 2012-13. In 2014, CFSA assisted 119 students with 131 award applications, more than 50 of whom won scholarships or fellowships, with 10 others named as finalists or honorable mentions. More than 400 students attended information sessions, writing workshops, or sought individual advising. “One of our goals now is to reach students as early as possible in their time at Syracuse, making sure they take full advantage of all the resources we have here,” Hanson says. Another objective is to continue to increase the numbers of applicants, and to reach out to students within a greater breadth of disciplines. “SU students are inspiring,” she says. “They have great ideas and will have an important impact on their fields. It’s exciting to be a part of that, and to help them in any way we can.”