Roadmap to Fellowships

One of the best ways to prepare for a fellowship opportunity is to engage as an undergraduate student in activities and studies that provide a strong foundation for that fellowship. There are many ways to build your profile while learning new skills and testing your abilities and affinities for the fellowship work in which you plan to engage. The key to a successful fellowship application is to seek out 'stackable' experiences that provide a foundation for the fellowship(s) you've identified, that help you to create a genuinely compelling, substantial personal narrative that shows your commitment to the field of endeavor that fellowship addresses. 

Of course, some fellowships (the Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell), in supporting graduate study in the United Kingdom or in Ireland, are going to be primarily about exceptional academic achievement. These distinguished fellowships also value demonstrated leadership as well as  academic and civic potential. Many other fellowships (the Payne, Rangel and Pickering, the Truman, the Gaither, Scoville and FAO Schwarz and more) are all in different ways focused on public service, foreign affairs, international development, human rights, peace and security issues... and so on! Find the appropriate clubs, organizations, community organizations and more that help you truly engage in the field of your interest! Model UN, the Model Arab League, language study, study abroad, participation in an adult literacy program or neighborhood association or refugee resettlement organization - all are tremendously useful as well as good in themselves!

Opportunities to pursue include the GVSU Lakers Venture Grant and the many opportunities and resources available for undergraduate student researchers and scholars in the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship!

Neil Gaiman quote


If you are interested in one of the many distinguished fellowships leading to foreign service, federal service within the US, or international development and service:

If you are interested in STEM fellowships:

  • Engage in undergraduate research at GVSU during the academic year and over the summer
  • Seek out summer research internships in labs and field stations in Michigan and through competitive undergraduate research internship experiences such as SULI and SURF at a federal lab
  • Gain experience through an REU
  • Work closely with faculty mentors; talk with them about pathways to graduate study
  • Be informed about the social, public policy and ethical impacts of your research field
  • Be a mentor and support for other students in STEM
  • Take thoughtful leadership in STEM-focused organizations on campus and beyond

If you are interested in a Fulbright US Student English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) award that would enable you to teach English in one of the many countries that participate in the Fulbright program (or another ETA program such as JET, EPIK, TAPIF, USTA, etc:

  • Get involved in supporting and working with international students at GVSU
  • Volunteer with English-language lessons for a refugee resettlement organization or with an adult literacy program in Grand Rapids or in your hometown
  • Gain TESOL or TEFL certification
  • Pursue an education major or minor or an applied linguistics minor
  • Major or minor in the area studies program of your greatest interest
  • Study abroad on a semester or year-long program
  • Pursue language study with the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program
  • Become a Writing Consultant within the Writing Center at GVSU.  

If you are interested in a distinguished fellowship award for graduate study in the United Kingdom or Ireland (Marshall, Rhodes, Mitchell):

  • Maintain outstanding grades
  • Engage in substantive undergraduate research
  • Seek out leadership and service opportunities connected with your academic interests and career aspirations
  • Be deeply informed about the social, public policy and ethical impacts of your academic field
  • Explore the admission requirements and application deadlines of the university you plan to attend 
  • Seek the advice of faculty mentors, advisors and the Fellowships Office
  • Reach out to those whom you will ask for detailed, careful, positive letters of recommendation 

Service in Grand Rapids and Western Michigan

Note about international engagement, particularly international volunteerism and development work:

A rich array of opportunities are available to you! The links above are simply a starting point. In addition to the organization web pages listed, you may wish to begin your search by browsing the aggregator web pages and—both offer searchable databases of international options: you may choose the mode of engagement (study, volunteerism, internships, teaching English, and more) or the region or country in which you are interested. The IIE Passport searchable database offers another valuable search site. 

Some of these opportunities are primarily intended for recent college graduates, and some (many) are also available to undergraduate students who can devote a summer to an internship or volunteer/service experience.

Ethical engagement in service learning matters. Please consider intentions, motives, impact and ongoing commitments as you explore possibilities for service. Here are some useful resources: Global Service-Learning - Campus Compact; the Fair Trade Learning | Amizade (Amizade pioneered the concept of Fair Trade Learning); and Welcome to the Better Care Network! | Better Care Network. And this page offers a set of useful checks on the integrity of a international volunteer program: 7 red flags when considering an international volunteer program - Matador Network.

Page last modified September 25, 2023