UNC gives $30 million in scholarships annually to students, some of which comes from opportunities enrolled students can pursue during their time at the University.
From research fellowships to study abroad funding, there are many scholarship programs that undergraduate students can apply for.
Inger Brodey, director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships, said that seeking these opportunities offers many benefits.
“They’re financially valuable because they offer people free graduate school or paid internships, but also just the process of even applying, even if they don’t get one, is very valuable because it helps you figure out and articulate what it is you really want to do,” Brodey said. “It really increases your chances of say, getting into grad school because you will have to think through all of those things in applying.”
Many scholarships support undergraduate ruesearch or graduate study abroad. The Marshall, Mitchell and Rhodes scholarships are notable opportunities for juniors, seniors and graduates that allow for graduate study in any discipline in Europe. UNC students can also apply for the Luce Scholars Program, which allows for intensive language study in Asia, and the Schwarzman Scholars Program for master’s degree education in China.
There are also scholarship opportunities that are discipline-specific and can be completed over the summer. One such program is the Science and Math Achievement and Resourcefulness Track, which is supported by the Office of Undergraduate Research.
SMART scholars are provided a $3,000 stipend, as well as resources to do lab work over the summer. The program focuses on students from underrepresented populations and transfer students.
“Basically, the idea is that they do nine weeks of research in the summer all in STEM labs and they choose their labs,” said Gidi Shemer, professor of biology and adviser for SMART. “I’m helping them with recruiting labs, but they’re the ones who eventually find the labs. They meet as groups twice a week. These meetings are led by me, and this is when they get a chance to develop and explore more research-related skills.”
Zhi-wei Lin, a UNC junior and SMART scholar, had the opportunity to do lab research with professor Matthew Lockett.
“The SMART program really provided me a chance to start my research career,” Lin said. “At the time, I really needed money and a way to start research, because prior to that I was a lab technician and I didn’t really have a good way to start research. Applying to the SMART program really opened the door for me.”
The Office of Distinguished Scholarships provides resources for students interested in applying for such scholarship opportunities.
“We can meet with students just to brainstorm with them what they might want to apply for and once they’re applying, I read essays and give them critiques and suggestions,” Brodey said. “With the ones that require interviews, we can give practice interviews.”
Brodey said advisers like herself and the Office of Distinguished Scholarships will continue encouraging students to pursue opportunities during their undergraduate careers.
“The biggest barrier is people thinking that they’re not worthy or that they wouldn’t win,” Brodey said. “But if there’s any way to encourage people just to try or to reassure people that they would get something out of that process, I think that would be one of the important things we could do.”
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