So often, when I ask a prospective graduate student if they plan to apply for the Graduate Diversity Fellowship, they tell me “no, I don’t think I qualify.” There seem to be some very common misconceptions about what it takes to qualify for this financial award.
I’m here to tell you why yes, you probably do qualify for the Diversity Fellowship.
The word “diversity” can encompass so many traits, characteristics, and backgrounds. By definition, diversity is “a range of different things; variety.” The purpose of this entire fellowship program, funded by the State of New York, is to attract a wide range of students who will in turn offer exactly that – variety!
Differing perspectives are what make higher education the enlightening, eye-opening experience that it is. What would we learn if our campus interactions were between people who were all cut from the same mold and had been through similar life experiences?
The Diversity Fellowship acknowledges diversity in every imaginable way. Some examples include being from a traditionally underrepresented background in higher education, pursuing graduate study as a parent, or later in life at a “non-traditional” age, overcoming adversity such as learning or physical disabilities, health problems, financial hardship, addiction, or abusive relationships, or being the first in your family to pursue a college degree, let alone a master’s.
If you feel that you have a unique perspective to offer, whether it’s what you were born into, or what you have created for yourself in life, you just might qualify. To be clear, I believe every single one of you has a unique perspective and might qualify, (assuming you are applying as a new student for full-time fall enrollment, and are a US citizen).
One of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, talks about her experience working in a number of side jobs while she was pursuing a career in writing, and how by doing so much she learned so much about people. After working as a bartender and listening to the stories of her customers, she says she realized that “Just about everybody has a story that would stop your heart.”
What is your story?
How did you become who you are today?
What will you contribute to a graduate program that no one else might?
While our office receives hundreds of graduate admission applications each year, we routinely only receive about 30 applications for the Graduate Diversity Fellowship. We award 5 of these fellowships each year. Those are some great odds!
All you need to do is give some thought to the way you might contribute a unique perspective to your academic program, write a one page essay about it, and submit it to us (with your completed application), by February 15. We recently created a new online application form, so it is now easier than ever to apply for the fellowship.
I hope you will strongly consider this opportunity as you are working on your application for fall admission. It just might fund your first year of graduate school.
-Betsy Kane, Director of Graduate Admissions
Learn more about the Graduate Diversity Fellowship at SUNY Plattsburgh, by visiting: http://www.plattsburgh.edu/admissions/graduate/diversity-fellowship-program.php