Established in 1994, the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs (OFSP) provides support for students applying for nationally competitive fellowships. Twenty years of national fellowship winners have seen many high points. USC alumni Nicholas Miller '00 and Elizabeth Nyikos '09 are the proud recipients of the only Marshall Scholarships (for study in the UK) in the entire state of South Carolina. We have had 45 Goldwater Scholars, all coming out of the Honors College, in a winning streak that spans 22 years. Our 1995 Truman Scholar, Steven Burritt, gives back to USC by serving on the USC Truman Committee. There have been Hollings Scholars from USC in nine of the 10 years since the scholarship's beginning in 2005. All told, over the past 20 years students and alumni of USC have won 665 national fellowships, earning nearly $20 million for advanced study.
OFSP celebrated its 20th anniversary with a strong showing in a variety of national fellowship competitions. Highlights of our student winners in 2013-2014 include 6 Fulbright US Student Scholars (USC has had at least one Fulbright scholar in 18 of the last 20 years, and is currently on a 13-year streak), a record 7 NOAA/Hollings Scholars (making USC one of the top 3 Hollings-producing schools in the country this year), 4 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship winners and 3 honorable mentions, 2 Goldwater Scholars (giving USC a 22-year winning streak), 2 Boren Scholars heading to Russia for a year of language study, 2 Critical Language Scholarship winners, and a Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellow. In the 2013-2014 academic year, 225 national fellowship applications were submitted, with 72 applicants advancing to the finalist stage, and of those, 53 became fellowship recipients. Together, those 53 have earned more than $2 million for academic study.
Start early, ask questions, and remember that all you're doing is telling your story: good advice from 2014 Goldwater Scholar Connor Bain '15. Students continue to report positive experiences with the application process. When asked if completing an application packet was valuable to them, 98% of applicants said yes. Riley Brady '16, a 2014 Hollings Scholar, noted
There is no sense in fearing rejection or the application process itself. I was rejected from my first try at the Goldwater, but it gave me practice in the application process, made me prioritize future plans, allowed me to develop relationships with professors, and set me up for a much simpler Hollings process. I believe there is a national fellowship out there for every student's interests - it is just a matter of working with OFSP and giving it a shot.
The value of the opportunity for reflection was also noted by Andrea Eggleston '15, 2014 Truman Finalist in her advice to future applicants:
Try to incorporate the changes that you are learning about yourself, your motivations, and your end goals into your life now instead of later. That is what the true goal is, and making those changes and moving forward with your motivations is really what the whole process is trying to encourage.
Faculty and staff partners work with OFSP by serving on scholarship committees and interview teams, and assisting students as they write essays and assemble resumes for these competitions in which they are competing with students across the nation. These faculty and staff represent 21 departments and Centers within the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as 12 other colleges and schools on campus including the Moore School of Business, Education, Engineering and Computing, Law, Mass Communications, Music, Public Health, Social Work, SCHC, EPI, and Medicine. 100% of faculty assessed agree that supporting students' construction of a competitive application packet for a national fellowship competition is a rewarding experience.
Want to add your name to the winners list? The office continues to provide a variety of options for students to learn about national fellowships. Our website offers INFO (Investigate National Fellowship Opportunities - www.sc.edu/ofsp/info), a searchable database, as a starting point for exploring possibilities. OFSP also runs a series of fall workshops on specific competitions, as well as offering one-on-one appointments for students to help them find fellowships that fit their interests and goals. Get more information on how USC students can apply for national awards »