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Meet the Drexel Dragons up for the Biggest Awards This Year

March 01 2018

  Back row, left to right: Dean Cohen, Amy Gottsegen, Kelly Weissberger (Associate Director, CSD), Ashleigh Jugan, Nicholas Barber, Vincent O’Leary, Provost Blake, Riki McDaniel, Ian Nichols, Caitlin Walczyk, Sam Buczek, Meredith Wooten (Director, CSD), Dean Van Bockstaele, Martha Meiers (Program Coordinator, CSD). Front row, left to right: Caitlin Cooper, Ana Monastero, Jacob Baron, Dylan O’Donoghue, Marina D’souza, Gabrielle Salib, Emily Coyle (Fellowships Advisor, CSD). Photo credit Jordan Stein.

Every year, Drexel University’s Center for Scholar Development (CSD) in the Pennoni Honors College brings together students who have worked on fellowships applications throughout the year for a meet-and-greet with University leaders to discuss their research, projects and experience applying for fellowships. On Valentine’s Day, 14 graduate and undergraduate students talked about their work and goals and what they’re doing to achieve them. Also attending the event was the Center’s staff; Provost M. Brian Blake, PhD; Pennoni Honors College Dean Paula Marantz Cohen, PhD; and Elizabeth Van Bockstaele, PhD, interim vice provost of graduate education at the Graduate College and dean of the College of Medicine’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies.

The event is kept intentionally intimate to allow each student to describe their experience and engage in an informal discussion about their experiences applying for fellowships at Drexel.

“While we hope these applicants are successful, the meeting is about recognizing the initiative and hard work they put into their applications and the benefits they gain in terms of clarifying goals, writing skills and professional development,” said Meredith Wooten, PhD, director of Center for Scholar Development.

Given Provost Blake’s own experience applying for, receiving and reviewing fellowships, he is able to speak with students about the importance of fellowships in the academic community, as well as the hard work that goes into preparing a successful application.

“The best candidates for graduate fellowships and scholarships are students who demonstrate ambition and intellectual curiosity, along with aptitude,” Blake said at the event. “Those are watchwords around Drexel. So, I am very confident about the prospects for this group.”

Attendees included recipients of several highly competitive fellowships, as well as students still waiting to hear results from applications they submitted this fall. While some in attendance submitted their first fellowships application this year, other students were looking to build on past successes by applying for additional fellowships.

Nick Barber, a senior geoscience major and chemistry minor in the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Pennoni Honors College, is one of those students. Already a Goldwater Scholar and NOAA Hollings Scholar, Barber was recently named a 2018 Gates Cambridge Scholar and is still waiting to hear results for two other fellowships. Though he’s very, very familiar with the Scholar Development team after years of working with them for fellowship applications, he came to this year’s event to meet other Drexel students and share his experience.

“I wanted to attend to meet my fellow applicants and recipients, as the student body of fellowship applicants is widespread and I don’t get many opportunities to meet them,” he said. “I also wanted to share my positive experiences with CSD, as I wouldn’t be where I am today without the staff there. I like to do anything I can do to share my experience with the office with administrators and other students.”

This year’s attendees included Dragons who have applied for some of the country’s most competitive national and international student fellowships:

Jacob Baron (BS computer engineering ’21, Honors), who applied for the DoD Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship.

Nick Barber (BS geoscience ’18 with a chemistry minor, Honors), who is a Goldwater Scholar for 2016–18; a NOAA Hollings Scholar for 2016–2018 and a 2018 Gates Cambridge Scholar. He also applied for a Fulbright Study/Research Grant to Indonesia.

Sam Buczek (PhD student, materials science and engineering), who received Drexel’s George Hill Jr. Endowed Fellowship for 2017–2019 and applied for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships Program (NSF GRFP).

Caitlin Cooper (BA global studies ’17 with a minor in Spanish), who applied for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship and Spanish Ministry of Education’s English Teaching Program.

Marina D'souza (BS environmental engineering/materials science and engineering ’20, Honors), who applied for the DAAD Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE).

Amy Gottsegen (BS computer science ’19 with a politics minor, Honors), who was the Drexel nominee for a Truman Scholarship.

Ashleigh Jugan (BS environmental science ’18, Honors), who received the 2017 Gilman Scholarship and the 2017 Freeman-ASIA Award to travel and work in Vietnam and was a 2017–18 Udall Scholar. She applied for a Fulbright Study/Research Grant to the UK.

Riki McDaniel (BS materials science and engineering ’20, Honors), who applied for the Boren International Scholarship.

Ana Monastero (BS environmental studies and sustainability ’18 with a certificate of proficiency in Spanish), who is a semifinalist for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain.

Ian Nichols (PhD student, biology), who is a semifinalist for a Fulbright Study/Research Grant to Cameroon.

Dylan O’Donoghue (MLS legal studies ’18), who is a semifinalist for a Fulbright Study/Research Grant to Taiwan and also applied for the Boren International Fellowship.

Vincent O'Leary (BS environmental science ’18, Honors), who was a 2016–2018 NOAA Hollings Scholar, a 2017–2018 Udall Scholar and a 2018 Truman Scholar. O’Leary also was the Drexel nominee to apply for the Gaither Junior Fellows program.

Gabrielle Salib (PhD student, information science), who received the NSF LSAMP Bridge to Doctorate Fellowship for 2017-2019 and applied for the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship.

Caitlin Walczyk (BA global studies and political science major ’18 with minors in German and Russian, Honors), who won a 2017 Boren Scholarship to Kazakhstan and was a finalist for the 2017 Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship. She is a semifinalist for a Fulbright Study/Research Grant to Ukraine.