WKU students and recent graduates earned recognition in the nation’s most prestigious scholarship competitions during 2021-22. One hundred thirteen Hilltoppers submitted 139 applications for nationally competitive scholarships. They earned recognition 58 times, totaling more than $383,175 in funding for graduate school, language study, public service, and study abroad.
Of successful applications, 83 percent were submitted by Pell Grant recipients, 36 percent were submitted by first-generation college students, 29 percent were submitted by underrepresented minority students, 22 percent were submitted by students with disabilities, and 19 percent were submitted by non-traditional students.
The proportion of these students is significant beyond dollars earned; high-impact practices that enrich a student’s total educational experience are embedded in national scholarship competition. Developing application materials is a writing-intensive process, and applicants engage in regular, frequent feedback with professionals in the Office of Scholar Development. This can occur over weeks in a single application cycle, but students often return to apply for additional opportunities, developing their skills over a period of months or years to pursue research, study abroad, and more.
(More: List of 2021-2022 National Scholarship Winners)
The 2021-22 academic year marked the thirteenth year since the Office of Scholar Development was created. In the past five years alone, 306 applications submitted by WKU students and alumni who worked with the Office of Scholar Development earned recognition in nationally competitive scholarship competitions. To view all WKU students who have earned recognition from OSD-supported experiences since 2011, click here.
“Each year, our team celebrates students who commit to the process of applying for nationally competitive awards. Beyond the dollars and cents that are so often use to measure the value of these awards, the process of applying benefits every student,” said Lindsey Houchin, Assistant Director of the Office of Scholar Development.
“After completing multiple essay drafts and sometimes interviews that invite thorough feedback and intensive mentorship, students better understand their strengths and interests. With that information, they are better able to recognize opportunity when it arises and articulate both their interest and fit. That pays dividends every time they have to make a case for themselves, even for years to come.”
Among this year’s successes are the following highlights:
The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship awarded $179,500 to 39 WKU students, more than any other public institution in the state. In the October cycle, 19 students were named recipients—more than all other Kentucky institutions combined. In the March cycle, 20 additional students earned the scholarship. Of students who worked with the Office of Scholar Development to apply, 87 percent were selected for the award. The Gilman Scholarship aims to promote diversity in international education by enabling Pell Grant-eligible students with limited financial means to study abroad.
Additionally, four WKU students earned additional scholarship support for study abroad through Fund for Education Abroad and Freeman-ASIA scholarships. Fund for Education Abroad supports minority and first-generation college students underrepresented in U.S. study abroad, including U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Freeman-ASIA supports students with demonstrated financial need who will study in East or Southeast Asia.
Hilltoppers continued to earn success in national scholarships for intensive critical language study. Three students were awarded U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships for intensive study of Arabic and Chinese, and another seven were designated alternates. Two students earned Boren Scholarships, each worth $25,000 to fund intensive language study in the 2022-2023 academic year, while another was named an alternate.
WKU students also continued to earn recognition in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which funds an academic year of research, study, or English teaching in one of about 140 countries worldwide. Six WKU students and graduates were named alternates for Fulbright grants.
Additionally, a WKU graduate was named a Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellow, earning up to $84,000 for a two-year master’s degree toward a career in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State. The fellowship also arranges paid internships in the U.S. Congress and at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, as well as opportunities for mentorship and professional development.
WKU students were also recognized in scholarships promoting careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. One WKU student was selected for the Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship, earning up to $9,500 for academic study and a paid internship at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) facility. Another two Hilltoppers earned Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation. One student is now pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Vanderbilt University, and another is pursuing a Ph.D. in systems biology at Harvard Medical School.
About the Office of Scholar Development (OSD): OSD mentors WKU students applying for national scholarships to fund “academic extras” beyond what is covered by tuition, such as study abroad, research, professional experience, and more. From first drafts to final submissions with multiple revisions in between, OSD helps students make more possible regardless of their major or means.
Contact: Lindsey Houchin, [email protected]