Prestigious Paths Followed

UM students, from left: Olumayowa Olujohungbe, Alexis McDonald, Jacob Rudolph, Asia Cadet and Raymond Truong.
By Andres Tamayo

UM students, from left: Olumayowa Olujohungbe, Alexis McDonald, Jacob Rudolph, Asia Cadet and Raymond Truong.

Prestigious Paths Followed

By Andres Tamayo
UM’s Office of Prestigious Awards & Fellowships helped place 23 students in competitive programs, nationally and abroad, during the past year.

Students at the University of Miami can apply for fellowships and awards for programs that offer specialized study, study abroad, and other opportunities that provide a unique experience during their time in school.

During the past year, 23 UM students took part in these fellowships and programs. Students seeking the awards work closely with the University’s Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships (PAF) to prepare applications.

April Dobbins, director of PAF, said her office not only assists in applications for these awards, but looks to help students realize their potential and more.

UM News recently talked to several students about their experiences.

Jacob Rudolph, senior, Political Science major, LGBTQ Studies minor

Rudolph is a standout student who constantly pursues the extraordinary. He is UM’s first ever Point Scholar, a national scholarship awarded to an undergraduate student who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in the LGBTQ community.

Rudolph worked with the Office of Prestigious Awards to apply for the John Lewis Fellowship. The fellowship took Rudolph to Atlanta for a four-week intensive program that looked at the social movements in the U.S. with a focus on civil rights.

“This fellowship has really broadened my perspective and my academic interest and has given me much more context as I move forward in my professional life,” Rudolph said. “It was an incredible experience.”

Olumayowa “May” Olujohungbe, junior, double major in Public Health and Spanish

Olujohungbe worked with PAF, seeking help from former Fulbright recipients and critiquing her formal application before eventually being accepted into the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Summer Institute in London at the School of Oriental African Studies. The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship program in international educational exchange.

She had never studied abroad but as luck would have it, the program allowed her “some free time to go and explore London and see what the city had to offer.”

In London, Olujohungbe was not only able to experience British culture but also a plethora of others. “There were people from Italy, Canada, Jordan and Australia so we had a big mix of people,” she said.

Alexis McDonald, senior, Electronic Media major

McDonald knew from a young age, middle school to be exact, that she wanted to study abroad. She applied for, and was accepted to, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. Named after retired Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman of New York, the scholarship was established to help prepare U.S. students to assume significant roles in an increasingly global economy and interdependent world.

Through this scholarship, McDonald found herself in Durban, South Africa learning about the culture and interacting with members of the Zulu Tribe. The experience had such an influence on McDonald that she plans on returning soon, with or without the scholarship.

“Figure out why you want to study abroad and find a country that you can immerse yourself in,” McDonald advises potential applicants. “You only have one chance to study abroad; it can change your life.”

Asia Cadet, junior, triple majoring in Sociology, Criminology and Political Science

Over 7,500 miles away from the University of Miami, Cadet was awarded the opportunity to study Mandarin in China as part of her Critical Language Scholarship, a program of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Cadet says her pre- and post- program evaluations were like “night-and-day” and hopes that her improvement in the study of the language will help her earn the scholarship again next year.

She was thrilled with her experience that she said, “I am going to keep applying to as many programs as I can until I get to go back.”

Raymond Truong, senior, Health Sector Management & Policy

Truong has had dreams of travelling abroad even before he came to college.  In fact, it was a driving force behind him reaching out to the Office of Prestigious Awards & Fellowships as a freshman to research what scholarships were available to him and how to apply. 

“I wanted to study abroad because I wanted to expand my view of the world,” Truong said. With a little help from PAF on the application, Truong was able to just that. He earned the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship which allowed him to fulfill his dream of studying abroad. Through the scholarship, Truong studied Spanish and explored different cultures in Madrid, Valencia, Seville and Barcelona.

Travelling with his twin brother, Truong “became more confident” in his Spanish speaking abilities and plans to put them to use in the diverse city of Miami. He and his brother recently graduated from the University of Miami and he plans to pursue a career in health.

Undergraduate students who want to maximize their candidacy for nationally competitive awards, fellowships, and scholarships can visit the Office of Prestigious Awards & Fellowships for more information.