Faculty, staff can help lead students to scholarships

In guest post, provost’s office describes how scholarships promote scholarship at UND

Michelle Nguyen (left) and Yee Han Chu, academic support and fellowship opportunities coordinator, at a 2019 event recognizing Nguyen and other national scholarship winners at UND. UND archive photo.

The University of North Dakota has striven for excellence in scholarship and leadership since the university’s founding nearly 140 years ago. Many of our alumni have gone on to find great success in their chosen fields as a result of their academic foundation and the many connections they made during their time at UND.

This poster commemorates the work of UND instructor Dr. Cora Smith Eaton King, a member of the University’s first graduating class and a prominent suffragette. Poster courtesy of deadfeminists.com

Dr. Cora Smith Eaton King, a member of the first graduating class in 1889, became the first woman to practice as a medical doctor in the state of North Dakota.  She was a suffragette who scaled Mount Rainier in Washington and planted a “Votes for Women” flag at its summit.  This undertaking was the inspiration for a steamroller-print in her likeness to commemorate her climb. Beyond her experience as a student, Dr. Eaton King also served as an instructor at UND, motivating countless students to pursue their dreams.

To honor Dr. Smith’s success both on and off campus, Smith Hall was dedicated in her memory and scholarships were created in her name.  Today, scholarships, like the one in Dr. Smith’s honor, as well as faculty support, and community backing aid current UND students in their successes and innovations.

Student Tyler Larson’s Penny House project, which caught the attention and support of Paul Sum, professor of political science & public administration and the Center for Innovation, is one example of our students pursuing their passions with UND support. In a recent article with UND Today, Larson discussed the essential support Sum and the Center provided.

“Having support from them gives my project and myself a certain level of credibility,” he said. “It can break down some barriers when seeking new partners or contacts. The value that Dr. Sum puts into my project is indescribable.”

Other students with a strong sense of how they would like to make an impact, like UND junior Michelle Nguyen, may turn to Yee Han Chu, UND’s academic support and fellowship opportunities coordinator, who helps them pursue scholarships that align with their goals and helps set them on a path to becoming leaders worldwide.

Yee Han Chu

Yee Han Chu

Yee Han Chu earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and genetics from the University of California Davis, a master’s in clinical social work from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in teaching & learning with emphasis in higher education from UND.

She has taught at the University since 2003 and recently took on the role of academic support and fellowship opportunities coordinator full time last June.

“I assist students with their applications for nationally and internationally competitive scholarships. Because this process is quite complicated, requiring students to demonstrate discipline-specific knowledge, self-knowledge, writing skills, and tenacity, I collaborate with faculty, staff, and other students who help me to identify, mentor, and advise these applicants,” Chu said.

The importance of scholarships

As future leaders, our students benefit greatly from support.  Scholarships, in addition to financial support, open the door for students to have a multitude of academic and learning opportunities, both here and abroad. Chu helps students open these doors,

“I see my work as a form of advocacy,” Chu said. “Historically, the educational needs of high ability students are often overlooked because of the common perception that these students do not need assistance, which is untrue. In higher education, the needs of our most ambitious students are even more profound as they need to develop their intellectual interests within disciplinary or professional frameworks. It is very important to me that all students access the rigorous learning experiences they need and want. I strive with all the students who come to me to understand their unique interests and identify experiences that could cultivate their potential.”

Current project and beyond

Currently, Chu is working with a team of eight students called National Scholarship Peer Advisors. They are working on creating a four-year scholarship plan. It will prepare students for their professional goals, identifying possible scholarships for each year of study along with the courses and other learning experiences students could take to prepare them for these scholarships.

Chu is also in discussion with the president of the Information Systems Student Club to discuss UND’s participation in the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program. This program is designed to recruit and train the next generation of information technology professionals, a goal that — as Chu points out — aligns well with UND’s Grand Challenges.

The big ask

Chu has been working with faculty and staff to prepare students for these scholarships as well. “I really appreciate the faculty and staff who help me to identify promising students for national scholarships,” she said. “A larger network would be fantastic. Melissa Gjellstad (professor and director of Norwegian) has assisted me with supporting applicants for Fulbright scholarships and has created a series of assignments for her class that collectively organize into a completed mock Fulbright application.

“Any faculty member interested in designing a creative writing assignment using a national scholarship application as its structure should contact me. I would love to talk further about this project.”

Provost Thomas DiLorenzo would like to urge everyone to help Chu help students.

“Dr. Chu and her students have been doing fantastic work, but they cannot do this alone. Her hope, and mine, is to recruit faculty and staff to continue the growth of our student’s pursuit of national and international scholarships.”

If you would like to contact Dr. Chu, feel free to reach out to her at yee.chu@und.edu or 701.777.4436.

Guest post courtesy of the UND Office of Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs