This month, many Elon University students will apply for high-level international scholarship programs sponsored by the federal government. These programs, like the Boren Award and Fulbright Program, are highly competitive and faculty and staff at Elon have been working closely with students and will serve as the preliminary evaluation committee.
Janet Myers, director of national and international fellowships, helps students through many of the application processes and is part of the committee at Elon that reviews applications and decides which will get recommendations.
"My goal is to support the applicants throughout the process, not just evaluate them," she said.
The Fulbright Program provides opportunities for advanced graduate study and research or teaching abroad for recent college graduates and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
"They like to see leadership and service, someone who will make a difference in the world," Myers said. "They want to see how you have specifically prepared for what you want to do abroad."
Students applying for the Fulbright Scholarship must submit a personal statement and a grant proposal as well as several other application forms. All application materials must be submitted for committee review by Oct.17.
"One of the biggest challenges of this application was trying to portray yourself to the scholarship organization in one page," said senior Kelly Zug, and one of this year's Fulbright applicants. "There were times when I had a six-letter word that needed to be five letters, it got that close."
The Fulbright Scholarship does not carry a specific dollar award amount but it covers everything from airfare and tuition to housing and a living stipend, depending on the grant and the destination of the applicant.
Zug is applying to the English Teaching Assistantship program within the Fulbright Scholarship.
She plans to teach English in Italy, where she spent a semester abroad and a summer working as an English- speaking au pair for an Italian family.
"I've always been interested in teaching, and I fell in love with Italian culture while studying abroad there," she said.
Elon has had six Fulbright award winners, including three last year. Myers said scholarships could have a significant impact on the lives of students who win them.
"National fellowships provide students with access to opportunities that can have life-long impacts on their professional and personal development and on their career paths," she said.
Elon students will also compete this year for the Boren Scholarship, a study abroad award that gives undergraduates $10,000 for a semester abroad and $20,000 for a full year.
The federal government sponsors the Boren Scholarship awards through an organization called the National Security Education Program.
The main goal of the program is to promote broadly defined "United States security interests" by providing awards for students to study abroad in areas of strategic United States interest. These are traditionally areas outside of Western Europe and Australia.
"The possible destinations are not limited to what might be traditional places of security interest, like the Middle East," said Paul Geis, assistant director of affiliations and exchanges and Elon's on-campus Boren representative. "Factors like economic stability, hunger and sustainability can create conflict and insecurity. Students may also go to places of economic interest to the United States like China or Japan."
There is a one-year service requirement in the federal government for award winners that must be completed within three years of graduation. The priority agencies in which awardees are typically employed including the State Department, Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security.
High-level scholarship awards are not only important for students that earn them but for Elon as a whole, according to Myers.
"The success of Elon students in winning nationally competitive awards forwards the university's mission to become an institution that is nationally ranked for its academic and other programs," she said. "These students can become our best ambassadors in publicizing the strengths of an Elon education."