There is no getting around the fact that competition for fellowships and awards is intense. But for students interested in study abroad, doing independent research, or earning money toward their undergraduate tuition or graduate studies, applying for grants and fellowships makes sense. At Swarthmore, Melissa Mandos provides students with a road map to scholarship and fellowship opportunities.
"The process of applying for fellowships and awards is often more about the journey than the destination," Melissa likes to tell the students who come knocking at her office door in Parrish Hall. "Even if you don't win, the application process helps you clarify your goals for the future, find out more about who you are and what you value, and improves your writing and interviewing skills."
During her career, Melissa has guided students in developing effective writing and presentation skills, first as the coordinator of the Humphrey Fellowship Program at Rutgers University, and now at Swarthmore. Getting to know students as she guides them through the grant process is her favorite part of the job.
Selection of finalists for most fellowships is based in part on a candidate's personal statement, and Melissa's advice for preparing an application includes looking at the writing of the personal statement as an "exercise in self-reflection." Ask yourself the important questions, she advises, such as "Why do I want this scholarship or fellowship?" "How do my values and goals connect with the mission of the grant maker?" and "How do my academic and extracurricular activities connect with what I want to do in the future?" "How will this scholarship or fellowship shape me as person and my future?" 'Where do I see myself ten years from now?"
Melissa earned her B.A. from Wesleyan University, a master's in City and Regional Planning from Rutgers, and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Nonprofit Center at La Salle University.