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URI student traveling abroad

Prestigious national fellowships can lead to international travel, prominent internships, exciting grad school opportunities, and sometimes a big fat check. And at URI, winning one of those top fellowships is entirely within the realm of possibility.

URI senior Molly Wood is finishing up a year in Tanzania where she’s been studying Swahili, thanks to the Boren Scholarship, one of the most selective study abroad awards offered to American college students. She’s just one of eight URI students to win a Boren scholarship in the last 13 years.

Eily Cournoyer ’13 is in the United Kingdom doing cancer treatment research as a Fulbright and Whitaker scholar. With only six percent of applicants receiving funding, the UK is the most competitive of all Fulbright student programs. Two other 2013 graduates are currently studying in Germany, one with funding from Fulbright, and the other with a grant from its German counterpart, the German Academic Exchange Program.

There is nothing more rewarding than helping students…. I love seeing what it leads to next and following their successes so that I can inspire the next generation to take that chance and apply. ~Kathleen Maher

Alyssa Neill ’14 matched with her top choice, Bastyr University, in the highly competitive dietetic internship national placement program, thanks in part to winning a Truman Scholarship during her junior year. Following her internship, she’ll use her Truman funds for graduate studies in public health nutrition, bringing her one step closer to her dream of changing American food culture.

And, as a Hollings Scholar, Emily Bishop ‘15 is doing a summer internship at the Northwest Straits Commission researching survey techniques on bull kelp in Puget Sound in Washington. Administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Hollings is one of the most prestigious scholarships for marine sciences, and URI students have received more Hollings scholarships in the last five years than any other institution in New England.

Fellowships such as these recognize not only past performance, but also a student’s future promise — and they provide recognition that opens all kinds of doors. If you’re someone who’d like to aim for such honors, you’ll have the incredible support of Kathleen Maher, assistant director of the URI Honors Program, who oversees URI’s nomination process for national fellowships. With the support of faculty all over campus, she identifies strong students, guides them through often complex application requirements, connects them with faculty mentors, writes endorsement letters, conducts mock interviews, reviews written essays and much more.

“Fear of losing is often what holds our students back. Just being nominated for a national fellowship is an achievement. I tell them ‘if you don’t apply, you definitely will not win.’ The failure is in not applying,” Maher says. In the end, even if you don’t win the fellowship, Maher says, “students continually tell us that the process itself is of great value.” You’ll clarify your life’s goals, learn to ‘own’ your strengths and begin to see your dreams in tangible steps. Like Johnathan Berard ‘12, a 2011 Truman Scholar finalist who credits the Truman process for preparing him for application to highly competitive public policy graduate programs. With an MPP from George Washington University now in hand, he is realizing the professional aspirations laid out in his Truman application as a senior manager for advocacy and public policy at Blue Water Baltimore.

Maher says that for her, “there is nothing more rewarding than helping students…. I love seeing what it leads to next and following their successes so that I can inspire the next generation to take that chance and apply.” Fact is, at URI, we want you succeed as much as you do. Maybe more. And there’s a whole team of people just like Maher waiting to help you.

Pictured above: Eily Cournoyer atop Clifford’s Tower in York, England

Pictured on homepage: Dan Belbey, hiking through the Bavarian Alps while studying abroad in Hamburg, Germany.

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