Among the many student-focused programs here at Mercyhurst University sits the Prestigious Awards Program. The Prestigious Awards Program exists to help some of the exceptional students here apply for some of the most competitive scholarships and awards nationally and internationally.
These awards are for both undergraduate and graduate students, helping them be able to study and research at some of the most prestigious schools in the world.
The second goal of the Prestigious Awards Program is to help groom and prepare students in their first years here for applying for these awards in their upperclassmen years. These students are identified by faculty recommendations and the Honors Program. The program is run by Honors Program director, Justin Ross, Ph.D.
“The program is important because these awards and scholarships are very competitive, and students may need assistance in completing what can be complex applications,” Ross said.
Many different awards exist as part of the Prestigious Awards Program, each serving a unique purpose. This past year, three students from Mercyhurst University were nominated for these awards.
Junior Intelligence Studies major Douglas Wilsch was nominated for the Truman Scholarship, a graduate study award. As the Mercyhurst Prestigious Awards web page states, the award provides a student “up to $30,000 for graduate study in a public service-related degree.”
Also, Lucy Belleau and Christa Knipes were both nominated for the Fulbright Scholarship. The Fulbright Scholarship is also a graduate study award, but focuses on paying for travel, language, medical and living expenses for students during study abroad related to their career field.
As impressive and beneficial as these awards are, the monetary benefits are not the sole purpose or reward.
“Writing an application for one of the awards is focusing in on something that is special to you,” said Ross. “They are interested in applications which demonstrate a high commitment to public service.”
Belleau and Knipes were both interested in the Fulbright Scholarship due to their interest in education and travel. Both students understand the value in learning about other cultures, especially from a first-hand perspective.
“The Fulbright provides opportunities for real cultural exchange that allows for the give and take of language, cultural intricacies and customs that you simply cannot obtain from reading a book,” said Belleau.
However, the application process for these scholarships is far from a simple essay and resume to go along with it. In fact, Knipes mentioned the application process is so extensive, taking many months, that many students do not end up completing it.
The application includes recommendations, a university endorsement and numerous personal writing samples on specific and related topics, as well as regular materials such as transcripts and resumes. Regardless of the outcome of these awards, the nominees agreed that completing the application was an accomplishment which helped them learn more about themselves, their goals and their education.
Having gone through the process, Belleau provides advice to the next generation of Lakers applying for a Prestigious Award.
“My advice to anyone interested in applying is to take the leap and commit,” Belleau said.
If considering applying, students can visit the Prestigious Awards HUB page and fill out an interest form. Who knows where the process may lead.