New scholarship program aids high-achieving students
A new program at Central Michigan University could assist students in applying for prestigious scholarships.
The National Scholarship Program received funding from Provost Gary Shapiro’s office last year, and began gathering materials and printing brochures. They worked with one nominee, who failed to complete the process, said Professor Phame Camarena, director of the National Scholarship Program and Honors Program.
This year the program has assisted a Rhodes Scholarship nominee, two Fulbright Program nominees and a Goldwater Scholarship nominee. Camarena said there will be a Truman Scholarship nominee as well.
“One of our key challenges is making sure faculty and students understand what these scholarship programs are,” he said. “So really educating the university community is our top priority — it’s our first goal.”
The program is not exclusively for Honors students. Camarena said any high-achieving student is eligible to utilize the program, and said many scholarship programs have a long-standing history at other universities.
He said it speaks to the improving strength of CMU’s campus that Shapiro recognizes the need to provide a program tailored to recruit high-achieving students and assist them in putting together a strong application.
“We’re a much stronger university than we were 20 or 30 years ago,” Camarena said. “We’re becoming a top university, and if we’re going to be in that same pool of schools, we should be doing the same things.”
Anne Miller, the program coordinator, said there is a careful screening process to select the university nominees.
“Not everyone who submits a pre-application is a CMU nominee,” she said. “They are not wasting time, but maybe they’re not the nominee this year, but maybe next year with a little bit of guidance from faculty and (Camarena).”
The screening process is designed to ensure the nominee selected will have the commitment and ability to put together a strong application, said Camarena.
Miller said the program has teamed up with the Writing Center with good results.
She said after a nominee has been selected, the actual application process is extensive and requires a large effort from the student, faculty members and the National Scholarship Program.
Camarena said initial meetings with students often result in the student deciding for himself or herself not to attempt to secure the nomination, because of the low chance of getting the scholarship and the amount of work involved in building a strong application.
“There’s a misperception on the part of students who first call,” Camarena said. “You’re not just going to type in a couple of short answers. The essay you write for this will be the best essay you’ve ever written in your college career, and it will be edited more times than anything you’ve ever written in your college career.”
Camarena also stressed these scholarships are more than awards or tuition vouchers, and a student should not think of it that simply. He said they are scholarship programs that come with the expectation that a student will continue leadership in their community, discipline and the world. They also provide a network of program alumni.
“That’s part of what makes them so prestigious and competitive, because whoever’s the recipient of these things is, for the rest of their career, identified as a Udall scholar, for example, and is part of a network of individuals they can access,” Camarena said.
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