Office helps with $1.3 million in awards for academia
The Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs (OFSP) helped 48 students receive awards this year for national fellowships.
"Students don't realize how many additional scholarships there are out there besides Rhodes and Fulbright," said Novella Beskid, the director of OFSP.
In the past 17 years the office has worked to combat that ignorance, with students continually being named as Goldwater, Knowles and Hollings Scholars.
This past year, three of USC's four Goldwater nominations were recognized.
"Each school can only nominate four scholars for this award. No matter whether it's Duke, Yale or Harvard, you can only nominate four. So for three of our nominations to get recognized is a big deal," Beskid said.
The award is a $7,500 scholarship to be allocated toward a sophomore or junior student studying mathematics, natural sciences or engineering who is planning to pursue a doctorate degree.
"The office got us connected with all these different science professors that read our applications and gave us their perspectives on our research proposals and how we should think about ours, which was really invaluable," said fourth-year physics student, Reggie Bain, one of the recipients of the award.
Bain said that the office helped to simplify the process, point out details that could have been easily missed and even introduced him to past winners of the award to assist him in his pursuit.
Fourth-year baccalaureate student Jim Talbert received the award as well while third-year chemistry student Jackie Cantwell was an honorable mention.
Professor Douglas Meade was the chair of the Goldwater Scholarship faculty committee, a committee of which he has been a part for 17 years. Bain and Beskid accredit some of the success of scholars to faculty like Meade who have become familiar with certain programs and can use their experience to assist scholars. Professor Shelley Smith, the chair of the Truman Scholarship Committee is another faculty member who has been working with the office for 17 years.
"I certainly wouldn't have been able to apply competitively without them," said recent mathematics graduate Jim Manning, who was named as a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship.
Manning said that he began on the first drafts of his application in July and submitted the application in October after multiple drafts, many of which were reviewed by his advisers from OFSP.
"The most helpful thing was feedback that I got on my application," Manning said. "The insight these professors had gave me an advantage in some aspects."
Manning used his Rhodes application to start on his law school applications and will be attending law school in Virginia.
Manning isn't the only one who finds his career goals assisted by working with the office as 94 percent of students who responded to their survey said that they can better explain their academic goals and career plans due to working with the office. The same amount said that they would recommend the office to other students while 92 percent said that they would use or implement goals and plans learned from OFSP.
"Whether or not students win, they still find out about themselves and their subject," Beskid said. "The advising is holistic. We like to encourage students to come in and dream."
The office isn't exclusive but does search for "individuals that want to make a difference in their field of study." Beskid said that the office does a lot of outreach toward targeted pockets of academically gifted students but is open and holds drop-in hours and workshops.