Natalia Ksiezyk Dyba
Manager of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships and Awards
When I was a senior in college at Rice University in Houston, TX, I found out about a post-graduate fellowship that awarded $20,000 to spend a year outside of the United States pursuing any topic of interest, whether academic or not. I decided to apply because I didn’t know what to do after graduation. My proposal was to study ski bums in Norway, Switzerland, Chile and New Zealand. Unfortunately, I was not selected. Fortunately, I learned some valuable lessons.
The first lesson was the importance of starting early. If I had started thinking of life after graduation my junior year, my options would have been much broader. Many merit scholarships, fellowships and awards require planning at least a year ahead. The second lesson was the value of self-reflection. Competitive merit scholarship applications require thinking deeply about where you’ve come from and where you’re going. In a page or two, your passion has to shine and captivate the reader. Although I was not successful the first time, I revisited merit scholarship opportunities five years later and applied for the Fulbright ETA program in Argentina. Applying the lessons previously learned paid off! I spent nine months teaching English and learning about a new part of the world at the National University of Mar del Plata in Argentina.
In my new role as the Manager of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships and Awards I have the opportunity to pass on my experience to help you take advantage of the exciting opportunities offered by merit scholarships. I look forward to working with you!