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Securing Funding for Grad School. Do the Hard Work Early.

Craig Zelizer

March 10, 2022

How many of you have thought about pursuing an advanced degree? Ok. Now, how many of you have immediately thought about the upfront financial costs of that advanced degree? Scary, right? When I was considering my Master program options I would hear everything from ‘it’s not worth it money-wise’ to ‘don’t worry about the upfront costs because this is an investment’. Yes, I understand that any additional schooling is an investment and it should be but those tuition costs are incredibly daunting! That being said, in my situation earning a Master was key to where I saw my career path going, in fact, it was a requirement for many of the jobs I wanted to pursue. I began searching for scholarships, fellowship opportunities, grants that aligned with my Master in International Politics and Human Rights. This is not an easy process nor one to take lightly because ultimately if you do find those $$$ please keep in mind that a person or people are taking a chance on you and your dreams to give you that money. This is not an endeavor you pursue lightly or without careful thought.

I was awarded the Rotary International Global Grant for my Master program at the University of Glasgow. Opportunities like this do not come to fruition overnight, many hours were spent in front my computer screen researching the grant, reading testimonials and overall learning more about Rotary International. I learned that global grants can fund not only graduate-level academic achievements but also humanitarian projects and vocations training programs.

The main aspect was ensuring my goals and vision aligned with one of Rotary’s six areas of focus: Promoting peace, fighting disease, providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene, saving mothers and children, supporting education, and growing local economics. My goals focused around programs that highlighted human rights on an international field that connected on differing levels to each of Rotary’s areas of focus. Thrilled about the idea of partnering with an organization that not only shared my same vision but also one that has unprecedented success for more than 100 years. I began sending emails to local Rotarians asking questions about the grant, what type of candidate had received it in the past, how could I distinguish my application from others, etc. The process overall took a little over a year from my first email to boarding my plane headed for Scotland. To begin I have several meetings with my local club’s leadership as well as the Charlotte, NC leadership.

I used the Rotary Fellowship application essay questions as north stars for determining what my home club as well as the Rotary Foundation would be interested in learning.

In order to distinguish myself I put together ‘take-home’ information packets that I could give to every Rotarian I met. Each packet included my resume, cover letter for the grant, and the program I intended to apply to and why it fit in with the Rotary mission as well as my goals. You can find the full list of eligibility requirements on the Rotary International website.

For those interested in pursuing a scholarship, grant or fellowship through Rotary International my best advice would be to hone in on your interests to see how and where they align with Rotary’s areas of focus as well as their selfless mindset. I think Rotary’s founder, Paul Harris, said it best, “whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the world it will be known by the results it achieves”. If you are one of few to earn and be awarded an opportunity through Rotary remember this foundation is investing in you to make the world a better place. The hardest aspect of the entire process was standing up in front of my home Rotary Club and thanking them for their unwavering support and accepting my grant award. It was truly a humbling experience to stand in front of the 30 or so people, most of them complete strangers, but all of them earnest supporting me and my dreams and my endeavors. It was beautiful, terrifying and sobering. Looking back at the process and my experience I think that was so key and such an exemplary aspect about those in Rotary International. Here is a group of people who earnestly want to make the world a better place. So much so is that selfless drive that they will support those who they believe will continue with the “service above self” mindset and do good in the world. I have said it to every Rotarian I have met, but thank you again for believing in me and supporting my endeavors.

By Jordan Koletic, former Program Coordinator, PCDN.global

Bio: Jordan Koletic completed her Masters degree in Human Rights and International Politics at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom. Her research interests are focused on the mediation of humanitarian activism through social media platforms. Previously, Jordan worked for four years as a Strategy/Analytics Consultant on Wells Fargo’s Wealth and Investment Management Strategy team based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Prior to joining the financial services industry, Jordan interned as an investigative reporter at KosovaLive 360, a major news agency located in the capital city of Pristina, Kosovo. While there she researched, interviewed and reported on a variety of key issues for this freshly minted country, including its push for United Nations recognized sovereignty and efforts to field a 2012 Olympic team. Jordan holds dual BA degrees in Journalism and International Relations from Miami University. While at Miami, Jordan was a member of the Varsity Swim and Dive team and spent five months studying in Eastern Africa.

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