The Alma College difference is its ability to help and support students even after they graduate.
Alma College prides itself on being one of the top producing small liberal arts school in the country when it comes to preparing students to apply and win national scholarships. This program has been helping and prepping students for many years.
“It was created almost twenty years ago, as an effort to identify opportunities for students to compete for these scholarships and to work with students the minute they step on campus to be competitive because they don’t win these at the last minute,” said Derick Hulme, a professor of political science and the Nationally Competitive Scholarship advisor.
From the minute students set foot on campus, they are given opportunities to start preparing them for future scholarships concerning any major or study. Programs, such as P-Global and Model United Nations, create opportunities for students to grow in their field of interest.
“We created the opportunities and then work very closely with students through the application process,” said Hulme. Depending on the scholarship, students work through fifteen to twenty drafts at a time with professors as well as doing mock interviews.
Faculty and students work together diligently and learn as they go in order to provide students with not only the best chance of winning, but the ability to take away a valuable experience from applying. The odds are always against you in the application process, but that does not mean it is not worth trying.
“You come out of it feeling like you have grown and developed. It is about selling the process and the product,” said Hulme about the application process.
Alma College’s goal is to not only help students win scholarships, which it has produced a total of 51 winners, 36 finalists, 9 semi-finalists and 6 alternates since 1989 with an estimated value of scholarships won being around $2,426,000, but to create an experience that students can cherish and learn from for future endeavors.
“It is part of our mission to help students with it whether it is additional support in college or give them the resources to do things they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. These successes enhance the reputation of the college, which is helpful for all students and alums,” said Hulme, who visited a conference in Alabama in order to learn how to better prepare students for scholarships and understand what scholarship applications truly want to see from students.
Thanks to efforts from professors like Hulme, not only are enrolled students successfully winning scholarships, but Alma College alums are as well. Most recently, Alma College alum Marianna Smith (’17) won the Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship scholarship, which is offered by the US Agency for International Development.
This is not the first scholarship Smith has won due to her winning the Gilman scholarship in 2015, but the Payne Fellowship scholarship put her on the right track for her career.
“The Fellowship provides up to $96,000 of support for graduate school. As a Fellow, I will also have two internships, one on Capitol Hill this summer and one at a USAID mission in another country next summer,” said Smith.
Following her graduation, Smith plans to serve for five years as a Foreign Service Officer, where she will have a job in Washington D.C, as well as work on development projects in different countries.
Before winning the Payne Fellowship scholarship, Smith graduated Alma with a degree in Communication and Spanish while being involved in multiple on-campus programs.
“I was involved in Model UN, Public Affairs, Amnesty International, Alternative Breaks, and the Hispanic Coalition. I participated in two Posey Globals, to Costa Rica and India, studied abroad in Chile and interned at the US Embassy in Bolivia with support of the Donald J. Yehle Internship Award,” said Smith.
Smith’s time at Alma not only helped her win scholarships, but allowed her to build lasting relationships with faculty, who are dedicated to students’ success whether they are currently enrolled or not.
Smith was able to use faculty, such as Dr. Hulme, to provide constant feedback on her personal statement and application, while also doing mock interviews with him.
“I also had my statement reviewed by an Alma alum who currently works at USAID, one of my closest friends from Alma, and a friend who is an English teacher,” said Smith.
Because of the connections Smith built while at Alma and Alma College’s dedication to providing students with the best opportunities, students like Smith are always welcome to turn to the college’s close-knit community for help.
Faculty are often willing to help students achieve their goals whether they are a current student or an Alum. “The Alma community is eager to help and students looking into these opportunities should take advantage of the support and guidance,” said Smith.