My Journey through Fellowship Applications
Growing up, I remember vaguely hearing of a number of fellowships, whether from my older sister, parents, friends' siblings, etc., but I didn't know much about them except that they funded graduate studies, usually abroad, and seemed like very distant from where I was in life. But while I was applying for an early assurance medical school program, I started to do some light research into the possibilities. "If I got in, I would spend my senior year applying for ...." is the farthest I got to considering it. These scenarios were still hypotheticals until last summer, when I realized it was time to start seriously thinking about if I wanted to apply for these fellowships.
I began by talking to some of my past professors, who had an abstract idea of my career goals and interests from my previous conversations with them. Most of them were familiar with the fellowship process, and had written letters for other students before.
In addition, I received so much support from the Fellowship Advising Office. It can be quite a daunting and long process, but they helped make it as smooth as possible. In the beginning stages, our meetings mostly involved bouncing ideas around - figuring out what fellowships and graduate programs fit my interests. The options spanned from independent research projects to more formal graduate studies to teaching English. Another big question was where to go. I eventually decided on a few graduate programs in health data analytics in the United Kingdom.
Over the summer, I met with the advisors at the Fellowship Office at least three or four times, and they were an enormous help with my essays and other application materials. They also had quite early internal deadlines, which was a bit stressful at the time, but paid off once the official deadlines rolled around and I already had final drafts ready to go. The advisors also told us about other Dartmouth funds which could go towards graduate study abroad in case these did not work out.
Although I ultimately did not make it past the finalist stage for most of the fellowships I applied to (and waiting to hear back from one), I am still so glad to have gone through this process with my professors' and advisors' support. Brainstorming and writing those personal statement essays forced me to spend a lot of time reflecting on the experiences that have shaped my perspective and motivated my goals thus far. I'm a huge believer in applying for internships and awards even if the chance of receiving them are slim, as writing the application itself can be very meaningful. While I will unfortunately not be going to London next year, I am still incredibly grateful for the guidance and support I received throughout this entire process, whether from my family, professors, or advisors at the Fellowship Office.