Now that you have some fellowship opportunities that spark your interest, you wonder: What is the application process really like?
Students of diverse backgrounds and disciplines have come through our doors. They dedicate months of time and effort into preparing for and applying to internationally and nationally competitive fellowships. Some have received awards. Some have not but learned about themselves through the process. They used the skills, knowledge and drive gained through this experience to get accepted into graduate school, Peace Corps, and other opportunities that have enriched their lives. Here are a few of their stories.
Jessica arrived in Columbia as a Walter Williams Scholar in the Missouri School of Journalism, with a notion of becoming a war correspondent, so she studied International Journalism, along with Psychology and Political Science to provide a strong foundation of the people, places, and politics that would undergird her writing about current affairs around the world. She interned in Brussels through a Journalism School program, and was later “selected to travel to Yangon, Myanmar to report on the state of Myanmar’s free press (or lack thereof) as the country emerged from decades of oppressive military rule.” After those two high-impact weeks in Myanmar, Jessica yearned to “gain a theoretical understanding of conflict, as well as practical knowledge of conflict mediation skills.”
Helen Bass grew up in Kansas City, the daughter of a self-described “blue-collar working stiff” who saw that a college education would open doors that were never open to him. When Helen came to Mizzou, she discovered a need to go beyond textbooks, to “bridge the gap between theory and the real world,” setting for herself a goal of retaining a connection to her working-class background while expanding her knowledge and understanding of the broader world. So as an undergraduate Helen spent a semester in Buenos Aires, handled constituent relations in Senator Claire McCaskill’s office for a summer, worked as a teaching assistant for a Microeconomics class, received merit awards from the Economics Department and from the College of Arts & Science, served as president of Tigers Advocating for Political Participation, conducted research in Anthropology as well as in Economics, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.
Name: Abigail Beckerdite Undergraduate university and year of graduation: University of Missouri-Columbia, 2020 Major: Biological Engineering Dental school and expected year of graduation: Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine, 2024
Xavier Billingsley graduated from the MU College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources in 2013. Xavier’s accomplished undergraduate career, including his role as Missouri Students Association President, qualified him to receive the prestigious Charles Rangel International Fellowship. Now he studies at Cornell University to prepare for a career in foreign affairs.
Ryan Branson, a Fulbright U.S. Student Program applicant and Mark Twain Fellowship finalist, believes students reap many benefits from pursuing a fellowship, regardless of the outcome. Through applying for multiple fellowships, Ryan spread awareness about male eating disorders. He says this accomplishment defines his success.
After applying to Rhodes, Mitchell, and Marshall, MU alumnus Marc Canellas used the understanding gained through the process in many other areas of his professional life, including a graduate program in Engineering with full funding through the National Science Foundation.
Name: Thomas Cassimatis Undergraduate university and year of graduation: University of Missouri-Columbia, 2018 Major: Biological Sciences Medical school and expected year of graduation: The Ohio State College of Medicine, 2024
Name: Ali Farhadi Undergraduate university and year of graduation: University of Missouri-Columbia, 2019 Major: Biological Sciences Dental school and expected year of graduation: University of Michigan School of Dentistry, 2023
The Fulbright program awarded Paul Flo a year-long English Teaching Assistantship in Malaysia because of his experience working for Teach for America in Hawaii, his education and extracurricular activities at Mizzou, and his drive to teach in the U.S. and abroad in the future.
You do not have to spend much time with Carly Garrow to know that she is a “challenge-driven person” as she describes in her LinkedIn bio. From seeking competitive research opportunities as an underclassman at the University of Missouri to…
The process of pursuing a fellowship can be daunting. While applying for the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, Jaclyn Herr says she gained an “even-worse-than-before addiction to coffee and maybe some minor hair loss.” Through her sincere efforts, she gained greater self-confidence and a clearer idea of what drives her academically. Jaclyn has used these experiences to apply to doctoral programs and is now at Boston University in Classical Studies.
Sheela Lal graduated from MU in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics and International Studies. She applied to be a Fulbright Scholar in Sri Lanka and was awarded a full scholarship from 2012-2013. After arriving in Sri Lanka and doing initial research of Sinhala and Tamil films, she found a common theme of gender-based violence (GBV) and decided to “quantify GBV in Sinhala film and understanding the root of this behavior in Sinhalese Sri Lankan culture.” Sheela has been working since November 2013 for a social enterprise firm in India that focuses on underprivileged communities. In May 2014, she talked with the Fellowships Office and reflected on her experience with the application process and her time in Sri Lanka.
Name: Jacqueline Louderman Undergraduate university and year of graduation: University of Missouri-Columbia, 2018 Major: Health Sciences Medical school and expected year of graduation: New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, 2024
On April 4, 2017, at about 10:30 a.m., I tricked Brendan Marsh, about to graduate from Mizzou with degrees in physics and math, into entering the Chancellor’s suite—where he was introduced as the university’s fourth Mark Twain Fellow. Brendan thought I had taken him to Jesse Hall to see a bust of Isaac Newton, fitting for an undergraduate with his majors, but I had lied (a harmless white lie, to be sure). Rather than finding a bust of Newton on a bookshelf, Brendan opened the door to see the Chancellor’s staff seated around a conference table.
Noah Myers is an active community member whether in Columbia or Colombia. While a student at MU, Noah studied abroad in Argentina and back in Columbia, he applied his passion for the Spanish language as a tutor on campus and a volunteer in the community with Centro Latino and Columbia Free Skool. His initative and clear focus led to his acceptance to the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship program in Tunja, Colombia.
Zach Parolin dedicated much of his undergraduate focus on social justice issues, even spending spring break of his sophomore year sleeping on the streets of Amarillo—five days and nights of intentional homelessness, both to raise awareness of the problem of homeless youth and to honor his mother, who had been displaced from her biological family as a teenager. Also while at Mizzou, Zach, with a few friends, founded Project Sol, a campus organization that collaborated with Rainbow House, a local shelter for runaway and at-risk youth. In its first two years, Project Sol offered mentoring to nearly 200 homeless children and teenagers, and the program is still active in Columbia. In addition, Zach coached a Special Olympics basketball team, served as a campus tour guide, led the Alumni Association Student Board (AASB), was tapped into QEBH—Mizzou’s oldest secret honors society—and was elected Homecoming King as a senior.
Brian Pellot served as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Dubai, received the William Jefferson Clinton Scholarship at the American University in Dubai, and was awarded a Critical Language Scholarship to study Arabic in Morocco and Jordan. He sought both the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships; he was named a finalist for the Rhodes and selected to receive the Marshall to complete a master’s degree at St. Antony’s College, Oxford.
Name: Samantha Phillips Undergraduate university and year of graduation: University of Missouri-Columbia, 2020 Major: Biological Sciences and Psychology Medical school and expected year of graduation: California Health Sciences University, 2024
Founder of Dream Outside the Box nonprofit, Kam Phillips was active on the Mizzou campus and was selected for the prestigious Truman Scholarship in 2011. She also attended the Truman Scholarship 2012 Summer Institute in Washington, D.C.
One of the greatest privileges of fellowship advising is seeing young alumni pursue, achieve, and continue to refine the goals they set for themselves as graduating students. Becca Taylor, a 2013 MU graduate, is an example of an alumna who has been unwavering in commitment to advancing and protecting human rights within immigrant populations since we first came to know her in the Fellowships Office.