Meet Laura Stathopoulos, SGS Director, Graduate Awards and Financial Aid
Whether you’re a domestic or international grad student, the time is right to start thinking about awards and scholarships for the 2018-2019 academic year. No one knows this better than Laura Stathopoulos, Director of Graduate Awards and Financial Aid at the School of Graduate Studies. Laura’s team has already presented their first awards info session of the season: the well-attended Scholarships and Awards: when to start, where to start? in mid-July. They’ve also confirmed the dates for federal and provincial awards information sessions to be held on all three campuses this September.
Having worked with the SGS Graduate Awards Office for 9 years, Laura understands the challenges students face when trying to create an application that truly stands apart. “Virtually every eligible applicant has a stellar academic record,” Laura says, “The challenge is to create an application that shows how you are unique. Have you worked tirelessly as a student mentor while conducting your research? Do you volunteer as a community leader in your spare time? Have you received recognition of your work from an authority in your field? These details can help make you a more memorable—and successful—candidate.”
Tips to help you along your application journey:
- Reach out to potential referees well in advance to request their assistance. Ensure you select referees who really know your work and are excited about your potential as a researcher. Provide them with your CV and point-form notes to remind them about your personal commitments and achievements outside academia (particularly those that demonstrate leadership potential).
- Give context for your academic achievements, recognizing that most award adjudicators will not be aware of discipline- or program-specific milestones that you’ve met or exceeded (for example, the significance of a particular academic journal, how early or how often to publish in your particular field).
- Seek out advice from your mentors and past award holders in your program or division, and ask them for strategies to craft a successful application.
- Take advantage of the many resources that the School of Graduate Studies offers each year: in addition to the Graduate Awards Office information sessions in July and September, sign up for a fall proposal-writing intensive or course at the Graduate Centre for Academic Communication.
Laura’s final words of advice? Check with your graduate unit as soon as possible about internal application deadlines, and keep informed about awards opportunities through the GAO web page and ULife Awards database (the SGS Graduate Awards Office posts opportunities here regularly). Most importantly, persevere. Becoming adept at presenting yourself, your goals, and your accomplishments to a wide-ranging audience is an invaluable skill that will serve you well long after you complete your graduate studies.
Have questions about eligibility requirements, types of scholarships and awards, and additional resources? Contact an SGS Awards Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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