From Awardees

  Taylor Houdlette PortraitTaylor Houdlette, George Mitchell Scholarship 2018

What difference did it make for you to receive an award?

Being awarded the George J. Mitchell Peace scholarship means so much to me as a person, student, and United States citizen. I have always wanted to study abroad, with Ireland being a specific place of interest due to its rich history and culture. The problem that faced me in this pursuit to study abroad was my financial struggle. My family has always encouraged me to follow my dreams but would often ask the very real question of how I planned on affording to go abroad. This question plagued me because I had, in part, attended college with the dream of seeing more of the world. I’ve always wanted to grow as a person through academics and experiences, but I didn’t know how to go about pursuing the latter on a global scale. This scholarship has provided me with the amazing opportunity to follow my dreams in an affordable fashion. I’ll always be incredibly grateful to the George J. Mitchell Peace committee for providing me with this opportunity. I don’t know if I would have been able to study abroad otherwise.

What would you say to a student who is thinking about applying for a major scholarship?

When I came across the George J. Mitchell Peace scholarship, I knew that this was my chance. The mission of diplomacy and peace that George J. Mitchell brought to Northern Ireland resonated with me and my own dreams of making a difference on a global scale. You’ll know when you find your ideal scholarship because its mission will speak to you. I ended up narrowing down my entire international scholarship scope to the Peace scholarship because I knew that this was what I wanted to focus on, and that’s exactly what I did. I applied last year as a first-year and didn’t even make it to the finalist rounds. Don’t be afraid of being rejected and keep coming back. I knew that I wasn’t done trying and so I reapplied this past year and ended up making it all the way. I think the biggest tips that I could give a student looking into major scholarships would be honesty and staying persistent. I was very honest throughout the Peace application process about what my goals are and how this specific scholarship could assist me in pursuing those goals (which include possibly becoming a professor or diplomacy/nonprofit work). I also was persistent and kept reapplying. During the Peace finalist interview process, one of the Peace committee members asked me why I reapplied. I was very blunt and said that it was because of my passion towards the scholarship and concluded by saying that if I didn’t get the scholarship, that they would see my name again because I would keep reapplying. I personally believe that persistence helped to set me apart. Show major scholarship committees what you are passionate about, what you want to improve on and how the scholarship can help you grow, and highlight your essential qualities as a person.

Graham Van Goffrier Portrait

Graham Van Goffrier, Goldwater 2017

What difference did it make for you to receive an award?

It goes without saying that the financial support provided by the Goldwater Award has been immensely helpful to my family in offsetting the cost of my university education. However, the rewards of being selected as a Goldwater Scholar are much more than financial. The historical success of Goldwater recipients in both research and academics is appreciated by internship programs, REUs, companies, and graduate schools, and I believe this recognition has helped me to gain admission to the research experience and graduate program of my dreams at the University of Cambridge. Furthermore, composin

g my Goldwater application was an important milestone in my development as a writer; learning how to communicate my research background and other qualities in this setting was excellent preparation for similarly structured graduate program and fellowship applications.

What would you say to a student who is thinking about applying for a major scholarship?

To prospective major scholarship applicants: I recommend beginning to prepare for the application process several months before the first associated deadlines, as early as the Fall of Junior year. Take the time to research scholarship opportunities that are applicable to you, and also reach out to the university advisor for each scholarship as early as possible. They will have unique advice and perspective on these programs that will help guide the application process. Most scholarships allow and even encourage you to seek guidance when drafting essays, and each friend, professor, or family member who is available can offer a different viewpoint on your writing. The purpose of these essays is to go beyond what your transcript, CV, and even recommenders can communicate about you. Each essay is an opportunity for you to put a small part of your soul down in print, and allow reviewing committees to understand you as a uniquely talented person. Not everyone has to commit to saving the world (and it would even be cliché to do so); reviewers will be most interested in learning about the passions which motivate your current success and which will drive you forward throughout future studies and your career.

Erin Carter Portrait

Erin Carter, Goldwater 2012

What difference did it make for you to receive an award?

It made an enormous difference, it increased my confidence as a researcher and reassured that I could one day become a successful scientist and professor.