The secret to helping secure a fellowship is being able to tell your story through the personal statement, O’Connor said. One way to help stand out is showing how one’s research can impact the community.
Being able to tell her story and the story of her research to audiences as varied as elementary school children and the Ford Fellowship Committee is a skill Colleen O’Connor stresses in her advice to those who want to get fellowships and inspire others to love science.
The Ford Fellowship, which seeks to increase the numbers of professors who can use diversity as a resource for enriching education, awards predoctoral, dissertation and postdoctoral fellowships. O’Connor, who also received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship, emphasizes that applying for fellowships is like research: it takes practice and failed attempts before you are successful.
UW Ford Fellow Jorge Cisneros also describes the importance of persevering through the failures that come with research. He cites his strong research background as a primary factor in the success of his Ford Fellowship application, as it demonstrated to the committee that he has the strength to persevere as a researcher and underrepresented person in academia. Cisneros also stresses the importance of establishing connections with others from underrepresented backgrounds in academia.
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