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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Diverse scholarships available to students

Published: October 5, 2012
Section: Features

Beyond the Alumni and Friends Scholarship, a constituent of the need-based financial aid package, students possess the opportunity to apply for a vast array of scholarship and grant programs associated with diverse disciplinary fields. Ranging in scope from competitive nationally-based scholarship programs to Brandeis specific research grants, the criteria to determine eligibility for such prestigious awards varies immensely.
Describing the application process, Meredith Monaghan, director of academic fellowships at Brandeis, states, “One of the first steps is to find the right match—you have to ask yourself what you really want to do, and what kinds of experiences have you had so far; then you can figure out which fellowships might help you achieve your goals.”
Currently, the deadlines for numerous nationally-based scholarship programs are rapidly approaching. Describing the criteria for eligibility for these programs, Monaghan cites the Goldwater scholarship, which is available to sophomores and juniors pursuing a major in science. She asserts the variety of programs available, each of which caters to distinct fields of study. For instance the Truman scholarship, designated for current juniors, emphasizes strong leadership qualities and a record of community service for those students seeking to obtain careers in nonprofit, government or educational organizations.
Beyond the traditional programs related to scientific studies, the Boren scholarship is also geared toward students studying critical languages or those who possess an interest in national security, depicting the wide faucet of fields that students may pursue. She continues to describe the Carnegie Junior Fellows Program “as an opportunity to work for a year as a research associate at a think tank in Washington, D.C. in one of several research areas, including international affairs, political science, economics, history and Russian, Chinese or Middle East studies.”
In order to be eligible to become a recipient of these programs, students must first be selected among their peers in a campus wide competition. As with other four-year universities, Brandeis nominates four potential candidates to compete at the national level. Although the Boren program does not restrict the number of nominees chosen by the university, Monaghan asserts that “we still have an on-campus advising process that helps each student turn in an application that represents their absolute best.”
According to Monaghan, last year’s national competition resulted in the naming of 282 Goldwater Scholars, 53 Truman Scholars, 13 Carnegie Junior Fellows and over 100 Boren scholars.
Beyond the nationally competitive programs, students are also presented with the opportunity to engage in Brandeis specific grants. Funded by donor Jerome Schiff, a former biology professor, the Schiff Undergraduate Fellows program allows students to engage in a research project for one year alongside a faculty mentor. Although not specific to any particular field of study, the program awards a $2,000 stipend to the student and a $500 stipend to the mentor in order to pursue the research.
Describing the rewards that students may reap beyond monetary assistance, Monaghan reflects, “It varies so much depending on the people involved, the discipline and the demands of the project, but one thing that I see consistently is a real bond between Fellow and Mentor that extends beyond the project itself.”
Yet another Brandeis specific program, the Undergraduate Research Program, funds approximately 12 to 15 students per year, enabling the pursuit of research projects during the summer. According to Monaghan, in the past, select students have further been funded to travel and present their findings at national conferences, emphasizing the benefits that may be reaped from such programs.
Acknowledging the diverse programs available to students both at a national and campus specific level, Monaghan describes the past success of such programs. Enabling students to design new courses or materials consequently implemented within existing classes at Brandeis, the programs available allow for direct application to the real world.
While leaving a mark upon the community, some students have also been permitted to present their findings at international conferences in the past, emphasizing the opportunities that arise as a recipient of such grants. Monaghan reveals that many students “indicate that the experience gave them a great foundation for their graduate work, as well as something to discuss in their graduate school applications.”