Spotlight on student resources: The Peer Scholarship Office

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GRAPHIC BY Kayla payne / THE Flat Hat

When I came to the College of William and Mary four years ago, I was not expecting to get a job. However, when I saw a position advertised a few days after moving in that offered to pay me to edit essays — something I enjoyed helping my friends with in high school anyway — I decided to apply.

I’m so glad I did, because being a Peer Scholarship Advisor has been one of my favorite things I’ve done in college. Each day that I’m in the office, I have the chance to help someone make their dreams a reality by informing them about scholarships, fellowships and research grants that pertain to their area of interest and by guiding them on their application journey.

I have personally applied for several of the scholarships we promote, which has not only made me a more empathetic PSA, but has also given me amazing opportunities to fund study abroad and summer research and to know myself better through countless drafts of my personal statement. After being on both sides of the desk, I can confidently say that the PSAs are one of the best academic resources on campus.

The College produces dozens of successful scholarship recipients yearly, many of whom have worked with the PSAs. The College remains a top producer of Fulbright scholars. The Fulbright program allows graduates to either teach English or conduct an independent research project abroad for a year. We have had applicants spend their year teaching English in Bosnia, researching school funding and equity in Canada and studying LGBTQ jurisprudence in India. The College also has recipients every year for the Gilman Award, which funds study abroad for Pell Grant recipients; the Critical Language Scholarship, where students spend the summer studying a critical language in the country where it is spoken; and the Goldwater Scholarship, which provides undergraduate tuition scholarships to students planning a career in STEM research.

The Roy R. Charles Center for Academic Excellence in Blow Hall, where the PSA office is located, also hosts its own scholarship opportunities for summer research, including the Catron Scholarship for Artistic Development, the Meyers-Stern Scholarship for study in Israel or related Judaic Studies and Charles Center Summer Scholarships that fund seven weeks of full-time summer research in any field. These are only a few of the opportunities the PSAs love to help students apply for, but they represent the range of scholarships and fellowships the office works with.

Each day that I’m in the office, I have the chance to help someone make their dreams a reality by informing them about scholarships, fellowships and research grants that pertain to their area of interest and by guiding them on their application journey.

Whether you are interested in any of these specific scholarships or just want to bounce a research idea around, the PSAs are an incredible resource. We work with every class, from seniors to freshmen, and we especially encourage underclassmen to come in early in their academic career to begin planning ahead for major national awards, like the Truman Scholarship or the Rhodes Scholar program.

The PSAs host frequent information sessions, some of which relate to specific scholarships, and others, like the Personal Statement workshop, which will prepare you for any future application. We also post weekly “Feature Friday” spotlights that highlight a different scholarship every week on Facebook, “W&M Peer Scholarship Advice,” and on Twitter and Instagram @wmPSAs.

Our blog, peerscholarshipadvisors.blogs.wm.edu, features more information about our major opportunities, interviews with successful applicants about their process and advice for your own success. We recommend an in-person office visit as the best way to get personalized advice on opportunities for you. The PSA office is located in Blow Hall, room 254C. Feel free to drop by Monday to Friday from 9 to 5, or book an appointment at wmpeerscholadvice.youcanbook.me. We look forward to helping you fund your future!

Email Brittany Acors at [email protected]