This story is featured in the Fall 2017 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how HPU’s Dr. Meredith Malburne-Wade leads the office of fellowships and awards.
Sometimes students need a teacher and other times a cheerleader or taskmaster to help their dreams take flight. Dr. Meredith Malburne-Wade serves as all three.
As founding director of HPU’s Office of Fellowships and Awards, she guides students in pursuing more than 85 different scholarships and fellowships. Among them — with names like Fulbright, Rhodes, Marshall and Truman — are some of the most prestigious, selective programs available to college graduates in the U.S.
Malburne-Wade discusses her approach, how these awards impact students’ lives, and what sets the process apart at HPU.
How do students benefit from achieving prestigious fellowships, and how do these opportunities influence their future?
The benefits can be immense. Many of the awards offer fully funded graduate study, funded work or travel abroad, or other amazing experiences. They can open doors professionally and shape what graduate schools they apply to or their entire sense of self and purpose. These are highly competitive awards; indeed some are the most competitive in the world, and the process itself is both important and meaningful. Students earn valuable skills, such as the ability to communicate clearly and concisely about who they are and what they want to accomplish. They also develop stamina and commitment in pursuing their best selves. More importantly, they develop a bit of fearlessness when it comes to taking on big challenges.
What’s it like applying to these programs, and how do you support that process?
Students would say the process is intense, and it is! In our first meeting, I get to know them, find out what they are passionate about and where they envision themselves in years to come. I suggest fellowships that may be of interest, and once they’ve selected the ones they want to apply for, the real work begins. Part of my job is helping students understand what is important
to highlight in their application. For awards that allow it, I work closely with students as they draft their applications. We focus on increasing detail and clarity, but as an assistant professor of English, I coach them in all aspects of writing. Students may work on 15, 20 or even 25 drafts before submission. It’s a tough process, but one that’s useful, regardless of the outcome.
How is the office already making an impact, and what are your goals looking forward?
It’s been wonderful watching the journeys of students who applied for awards this past year. Liz Reichart, our Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant recipient, is pursing her passions through a fully funded, yearlong experience in Germany. Christine Rickert, who secured a placement with Mississippi Teacher Corps, now has the vehicle to make a real difference in the lives of students through education while also receiving a fully funded master’s degree. We have a large, dedicated audience of students who want to be engaged in these experiences. My goals for the new office are simple: grow the number of applicants and award recipients, and celebrate those who undertake the process.
What sets HPU apart in connecting students with these opportunities?
I’m in the unique position to guide students long before they are seniors. It can be incredibly useful for freshmen and sophomores to think through the kinds of experiences that will benefit them when they want to apply for a fellowship years from now. HPU is, in many ways, built on pursuing big dreams through hard work and preparation, and I’m honored to be a part of it.
View this story and more in the Fall 2017 edition of the HPU Magazine: