Fordham Hosts First-Ever Fellowships Week


Fordham hosts its first annual Fellowships Week to encourage students to learn about the fellowship application process. (Courtesy of Instagram)

Fordham’s Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships hosted its first-ever Fellowships Week program during the last week of February. Students were invited to attend nine events that would introduce them to the process of applying to fellowships and other awards.

Dr. Anna Beskin, the interim director of the Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships, said she conceived the initiative as a way to bring more attention to the office and meet more students. The purpose of Fellowships Week was to “demystify” the process of applying for awards and fellowships for Fordham students.

“I know that ‘the Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships’ can sound intimidating to students (I know that I would have been intimidated as a college student myself),” said Beskin. “So the goal of the February Fellowships Week was in part to show students that while the experience of applying isn’t quick or easy, it is worth it and that they should consider applying.”

The events offered to students during the week varied, with some serving as a basic introduction to the application process, like “The ABCs of Applying for Awards,” while others focused on teaching students how to improve specific aspects of an application, like “5 Steps to a Competitive Project Narrative” and “How to Write a Personal Statement.” There were also sessions on specific awards, such as the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, and about paying for graduate school. 

The week-long program was originally designed to be held in person, explained Beskin, but the ongoing pandemic meant the office had to host events over Zoom. Each event averaged 30 attendees, and Beskin said she believed the virtual format enticed a greater number of students to attend the sessions than if they had been held in person. “In some ways, it maybe made it more accessible,” she said.

Beskin said in the past, students have expressed concerns that they are “not good enough” to apply to fellowships. She wanted to use Fellowships Week to bolster confidence in Fordham students.

“Every Fordham student is a potential applicant,” Beskin said. “Fordham has so many amazing students who are doing fascinating work, and I want to make sure that folks don’t self-select out of the process because they have this idea of what a ‘perfect applicant’ should be. There is no such thing.”

Beskin said her office plans to host Fellowships Week again next year when they will hopefully be able to connect to students in person. She said she was encouraged by emails she received after the events from students who wanted to talk more about applications. 

Beskin emphasized that her office works to ensure students feel supported during the application process. “[Fellowships Week] isn’t where potential applicants will end their journey,” she said. “We work with individual applicants over a period of many months (usually about six months if possible), so we wear many hats during that process. Yes we’re advisors, but we’re also writing coaches, and cheerleaders, and mentors.”

Beskin said students should reach out to her via email ([email protected]) or her office ([email protected]) if they want to learn more about applying to fellowships and awards. Students can also request video recordings of last week’s events if they were unable to attend.