Christian Vaccaro, a member of the IUP Sociology faculty and IUP Merit Scholarship Advisor, is leading the charge of reinforcing a Merit Scholarship Culture at IUP—and is asking for assistance from the IUP community.
“The Merit Scholarship Culture is a conscious effort, and it will take a village,” Vaccaro said. “We have many outstanding students who could be competitive—and could win—national and international scholarships.
“But, we need a strong village,” he said. “That means we need faculty in place to mentor, write letters of support and recommendation, do mock interviews—and we need to let our students know that the village is there to support them and that these opportunities do exist for them. This initiative is about faculty awareness and student awareness.”
Daniel Wethli, a senior philosophy and honors Asian Studies double major, was selected for a 2019–20 Fulbright research award and is IUP’s 16th Fulbright scholar. Prior to his selection, IUP was successful in securing 11 student Fulbright award winners in the span of 12 years (from 2000 to 2012).
“These competitive scholarships are rigorous, and to be successful, students need to be identified early and coached to help them to make thoughtful choices about coursework as well as extracurricular experiences, including clubs and activities,” Vaccaro said.
Vaccaro recently emailed sophomore and junior students who have a 3.25 grade point average with a message about “scholarship season.” He invited these students to an information session on merit scholarships on April 8, and a “Fulbright Season Kickoff” Workshop on April 15 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Whitmyre Hall’s Great Room.
“We had about 150 students attend the information session on April 8. I urge faculty and staff who have interactions with students to encourage interested students to join us on April 15. So many of our students don’t even realize that scholarships like these are a possibility; we hope to change that with more information to faculty advisors.”
The April 15 workshop will offer details, advice, and guidance on constructing exemplary applications for merit scholarship, along with an application plan for students who want to move forward with a fall application.
“IUP is committed to helping students to achieve their goals and dreams,” IUP Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Timothy Moerland said. “Part of that commitment is to inform and encourage students to seek opportunities that they may not even know are possible, or that they think are out of their reach. I’m very appreciative of Dr. Vaccaro’s work and the work of all our faculty and staff that help our students to meet—and often exceed—their own dreams.”
Vaccaro has compiled “The 10 Merit Scholarships Every Advisor Should Know About.” These scholarships include:
The Boren Scholarship provides up $20,000 for language study and cultural immersion abroad in countries where the language is in the national interest. All recipients agree to a one-year term of employment in a federal agency with national security responsibilities. Applications due in January each year.
The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship offers nine- to 12-month research study opportunities for college seniors and graduate students whereby the candidate designs a specific proposal to conduct independent study or research within their proposed county. Applications due in September each year.
The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship offers nine-to 12-month cultural exchange experience as an English teaching assistant and opportunities for college seniors and graduate students to teach ESL courses in a proposed country. Applications due in September each year.
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship offers up to $7,500 a year to help cover costs associated with tuition, mandatory fees, books, room, and board to students committed to a career in science fields. Applications due in January each year.
The George C. Marshall Scholarship finances young Americans of high ability to study for a graduate degree in the United Kingdom. The scholarship is designed as a cultural exchange to help keep a close accord between the United States and the UK. Applications due in September each year.
The George Mitchell Scholarship selects seniors between ages of 18 and 30 for one academic year of postgraduate study in any discipline offered by institutions of higher learning in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Applications due in September each year.
The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Programs provide financial support of up to $37,500 annually for graduate programs focused on preparation for the foreign service. Pickering Fellows make a commitment to a minimum of five years of service in an appointment as foreign service officer. Applications due in September each year.
The Rhodes Scholarship enables students to study at Oxford University, in order to aid in the promotion of international understanding and peace. Rhodes Scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead. Applications due in September each year.
The Harry Truman Scholarship provides up to $30,000 of support for the graduate education and professional development of outstanding young people committed to public service leadership of any type. Applications are due in January each year.
The Udall scholarship honors the legacies of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall by providing up to $7,000 to support undergraduate students interested in environmental sustainability and Native American issues. Applicants may also be a Native American or Alaskan Native student interested in tribal public policy or Native health. Applications are due to the national Udall Foundation in early March each year.