Thanks to his work with the Fellowships Office, MU School of Law Professor Ben Trachtenberg interacts regularly with undergraduates despite not teaching any undergraduate courses.
Trachtenberg serves on interview panels which are designed to allow students to experience what an actual interview for a fellowship would be like.
“The reason I keep doing it is that I get to meet some of the best students at the university and talk about the exciting things they want to do with their lives,” he says.
Faculty on these panels do much more than conduct practice interviews; they mentor students through the entire process.
“As a student, it meant a lot that these professors take time out of their hectic lives to help me prepare for fellowship and scholarship interviews,” says senior Jessica Anania, a 2015 finalist for the Mitchell Scholarship. “Their time and feedback helped me immensely.”
Trachtenberg was a 2002 Mitchell Scholar.
“Part of what we’re doing as a committee is helping these students realize what these scholarships are—both so they can understand how cool an opportunity this is and also so they can present themselves in a way that highlights how good they’d be as a choice,” Trachtenberg says.
According to Trachtenberg, the process of applying for fellowships and scholarships provides students a chance to engage in some introspection that they may not otherwise do. He believes that students who do not end up winning any prizes still benefit greatly from the application process.
“The kind of work you do that helps refine your application will also help you get a job, help you get into medical school or help you figure out if you want to go to medical school,” Trachtenberg says. “Maybe after writing the 50th draft of your ‘Here’s why you should give me a scholarship because I want to become a doctor’ essay, you say ‘I don’t want to write this essay because I don’t want to be a doctor.’ That’s fine too.”
Trachtenberg was instrumental in developing the Mark Twain Fellowship at MU. It allows students who applied for a nationally-recognized fellowship program and did not win to apply for a prize through the University. Anania was this year’s recipient of that award.
“We have tremendous applicants every year who don’t win,” Trachtenberg says. “While we can’t solve that problem for everyone, we have been able to create a fellowship that lets us solve that problem for one Tiger a year.”