Yo, What’s Good?: What Makes You a “Good” Candidate for a Fellowship or Scholarship?
I recently received an email from a peer about what makes them a good candidate for a certain fellowship that I was awarded. It took me a while to respond to the email because this question of “what makes someone a good candidate?” is hard to answer. When you apply for a fellowship or scholarship, there will be certain criteria like, must be a sophomore at time of application with at least a 3.0 gpa, but what makes someone a “good” candidate for a specific award. I do not believe we live in an objective, value neutral world. Good is subjective and limiting. Good gets old, good is repetitive, and good collocates with the term “best” and best at best is determined by the situation. Context is everything, but also you are everything. Okay, I know at this point you are probably like what is she talking about, but really, what makes someone the best candidate for an award is that person deciding they are what's good, they are what’s best, and simply applying. You hold that power. Now whether you actually get chosen for the award is up to the review committee, but anyone that steps up and applies has already achieved beyond measure.
When applying for the fellowship or scholarship, it may require an essay. The essay may ask you something along the lines of what are your some of your personal interests, major, or goals that make you a suitable candidate for this award? So back to the question I received of what makes someone a good candidate? What makes someone a good candidate is someone who knows who they are, is confident in their abilities, and can use their unique strengths to enhance and have an effect on any community they enter. So think not what this fellowship can do for you, but what can you do for this fellowship? How will you use the knowledge you gain from this experience for years to come? What do you bring to the table that reinforces your seat at the table? Many fellowships seek students who are passionate about their scholastic interests and plan to do something with this thing called life. How will you carry yourself and unify your goals with the goals of the fellowship and embody a true fellow while being the true you? Thinking about these questions now will prepare you for eventually writing your personal statement for grad school because you will have already been in the process of reflecting on your goals, your interests, your intentions, and the impact of your accomplishments.
Again, you are everything. You hold power. You need to know and stand solid in what you bring to the table. You just being you and knowing the power of your individuality makes you the best candidate for any fellowship or scholarship you apply for.