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How to prepare a successful scholarship application

VIEWS: 6 PAGES: 13

									How to prepare a successful
  scholarship application
A Graduate Student’s Perspective
           Mariya Lesiv
• I apologize in advance for using the
  pronouns “I” and “my” so my times 

• Its just because the following
  thoughts and suggestions are based
  on my personal experience
What have I received? This is not to show off but to show what
one can realistically get (and you can get much more than I have)
  when one makes an effort and applies; I believe that at least
     70% of success in this process is about “making an effort”
         rather than about possessing any special talents
 2005-2006:
 • Provost Doctoral Entrance Scholarship $8,000      (FGSR, U of A)
 2006-2007:
 • Provost Doctoral Entrance Scholarship $8,000       (FGSR, U of A)
 • Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko Bursary S1,500
 2007-2008:
 • Helen Darcovich Memorial Doctoral Fellowship $12,000 (CIUS)
 2008-2009:
 • Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship $15,000 (U of A Major Award)
 • Helen Darcovich Memorial Doctoral Fellowship, Renewal $9,500 (without
    stipend, “too much for one year” – they said )
 • Research Abroad Travel Grant $7,000 (FGSR, U of A)
 • Margaret Brine Scholarship for Women $6,000 (CFUW - Edmonton)

 •    Several smaller scholarships and travel grants
                       Basic things

• Follow instructions correctly! Make sure you are eligible

• The more publications (articles, book reviews and books),
  conference/public presentations, administrative and volunteer
  activities one has on his or her CV – the better it looks:
  however, “super academic” committees focus on the quality and
  ranks of journals in which you publish, not just on a number of
  works

• Proposal – introduce your topic, place it in the context of your
  field (what has been written about your topic already), say
  what issues you will address, present your methodology for
  research and analysis, say how your work will contribute to the
  field
                  Titles
• “Flashy” titles/topics work (although I hate to say
  this )

• My title: “Neo-Paganism Between East and West:
  Construction of Alternative National Identity in
  Ukraine and the Ukrainian Diaspora” – “flashy” but
  probably too long; but it worked a few times
                    Add some “meat”
    so that committee members remember your proposal


•    Example: first paragraph from my application for General Awards:

     “Glory to Our Native Gods!” is a slogan of many Ukrainian Neo-
     Pagans who strive to revive beliefs and practices from over a
     thousand years ago. They draw upon historical primary sources
     containing information about old Slavic mythology and
     contemporary rural folklore maintaining remnants of the old pagan
     worldview. Although many folkloric forms have been appropriated
     by the Christian church, contemporary Pagans consider these
     elements as originally belonging to them and reclaim them for their
     own needs.

•    Having read it for the first time, committee members might not
     remember the whole thing but I think (or hope) they would
     remember the first sentence
        Know your audience!
• Tailor your application to the interests of the
  institution offering the scholarship

• For example, Can. Federation of University Women
  (CFUW) has the following requirements for Letter
  of Intent (very different from General Awards):

   – The various reasons you decided to undertake graduate
     studies
   – Why you chose your particular focus in your research
     project
   – Special circumstances which you feel would be useful for
     the committee to know
• This committee consists of people from various
  fields, many of them do not necessarily have
  graduate degrees

• I understood that they would want my Letter of
  Intent to be more personable rather than just a
  “dry” academic statement; please note that this is
  a very different approach from that required by
  the U of A General Awards committee

• Thus, I made this Letter related to my
  experiences, beliefs and visions

• Following are a few paragraphs from the Letter:
•   While research in the physical sciences often finds immediate
    application in ‘real’ life, research in the humanities and social sciences
    does not usually produce such quick practical results. However, it is
    these latter fields that gradually shape and significantly contribute to
    human thought. Scholars in these areas aim at understanding the way
    societies create meaning out of their world. Understanding leads to
    tolerance which, in turn, helps to overcome various social and cultural
    boundaries. I appreciate the vital role the humanities and social
    sciences have to play and this is why I chose an academic career path in
    the field of folklore.

•   Folklore studies is one of the fascinating disciplines that focuses on
    how both individuals and groups of people shape their idea of reality
    and define themselves through creative expression. This process often
    results in interesting new cultural forms such as the phenomenon of
    Ukrainian Neo-Paganism, which is the focus of my dissertation entitled
    “Neo-Paganism between East and West: Construction of National
    Identity in Ukraine and the Ukrainian Diaspora” (see the description
    below).
•   My interest in both the study of identity and of this particular
    phenomenon is also influenced by my unique personal
    circumstances. I was born and raised in Ukraine and received most
    of my secondary education while that country was still part of the
    Soviet Union. I did much of my post-secondary studies in the
    context of post-Soviet Ukraine. This was a time of sharp socio-
    political turmoil in the territories of the former Soviet Union. I
    witnessed and experienced the major shift in ideologies (from
    communist to nationalist) that took place at the state level over a
    very short period of time. On the popular level, the failure of the
    myth of the “Soviet people” increased the need for many
    individuals to seek out their new sense of self. This resulted in the
    formation of a great number of cultural, political, and religious
    groups. These groups organized a variety of activities that helped
    many people develop a sense of belonging to a particular community
    and, thus, form a distinct identity. Neo-Paganism is one such
    response to post-Soviet turbulence. The adherents of this
    movement search for the roots of their “true” national identity in
    pre-Christian beliefs and practices, adapting these to their
    present needs.
Reference Letters – super important!


 Usually 2 or 3 letters:

 • Supervisor (often required)

 • Who else to choose? Students often make
   decisions based one’s rank, achievements and
   popularity. This is good. However, this person has
   to know you well and to be interested in your
   work to write a good enthusiastic letter
• Apply for many scholarships rather
  than just for one

• Ask somebody (a supervisor or a
  friend who has good writing skills) to
  read through your application and
  edit it before you submit it
• I forgot to mention that the
  remaining 30% is about luck 

• I wish all of you the best of luck!

								
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