Scholarship candidates had various experiences in application process
AT A GLANCE
4 current undergraduate/graduate students
Fields of Study:
History, European emphasis
Going into his interview, economics senior Jerod Coker joked that he donned a pink tie because it was soothing.
“I was pretty nervous,” Coker said. “I tend to psych myself out, so I just went in there like it was a conversation with friends rather than an interrogation.”
After surviving the application process at OU, Coker is one of six current and former students looking forward to competing for the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships. The students were nominated by the university through an application and interview process at the end of August.
“The nomination is the easy part,” he said. “[Applying,] that’s the intense part.”
Coker said applying for the scholarships has been “quite tedious.” He’s been meeting with faculty twice a week since his endorsement to go over his personal statement and various essays.
“It’s safe to say I got frustrated after having two drafts completely demolished [by the advisors],” Coker said.
The third time was the charm for Coker, who said he finally let go and wrote his statement as a stream of consciousness. Instead of writing clichés, Coker said he wrote about his desire to study in the “motherland of his two favorite things,” — rock ‘n’ roll and entrepreneurship.
“It won’t be stuffy academic prose … at least I can say I wasn’t outing up a façade,” he said.
Coker said if he gets one of the scholarships he plans on studying philosophy and economics. Eventually, Coker plans on attending law school and getting his Master’s of Business.
After almost missing the application deadline for OU’s selection process, history senior and candidate Scott Renner said he is looking forward to an easier application process for the actual scholarship.
“I missed the official meeting,” he said. “And turns out, the morning I set up an alternate meeting … was the morning that the first application was due, so I had to prepare it in six hours, including a 1,000-word personal statement and a letter of recommendation.”
Renner said after that morning, the rest of the application process — which includes a couple personal statements, some more letters of recommendation and then filling out a rather lengthy digital form — will be “a piece of cake.”
Renner, a candidate for both the Marshall and Rhodes scholarships, said although he went through the formal OU application at the last minute, he has been preparing himself as a candidate for several years.
“In the summer after my freshman year, I spent six weeks in Italy doing an archaeological excavation on Roman ruins,” Renner said. “We uncovered a floor that hadn’t been used in a thousand years, and we got to walk on it.”
Taking advantage of opportunities such as that have helped him diversify his experience and prepare his application in “little pieces here and there all the time,” he said.
If he gets one of the scholarships, Renner said he plans to pursue a Master’s degree in medieval history for a year then a doctorate degree the next year.
Renner isn’t the only candidate who has prepared himself as an applicant well in advance.
Graduate student Holly Berrigan, a candidate for both the Rhodes and Marshall scholarships, is in her final year of OU’s International Studies Accelerated Program.
Berrigan said she also spent the summer preparing in her own way, by participating in the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission. She said this enhances her application because it shows her “previous interest in the country.”
Because she will graduate with a Master’s from OU, Berrigan said if she wins one of the scholarships she plans to apply to the D.Phil program at Oxford in international relations, researching “soft power initiatives and public diplomacy.”
OU graduate Christine Hoaglund, who is applying for the Marshall scholarship, said she had an exhaustive preparation process.
Hoagland — a Fulbright scholar doing graduate work in Mexico — said she spent all summer reading about her proposed research project — an extra aspect of the application for her because she’s applying for a Doctorate and not just a Master’s degree.
“In preparing for the essays, I emailed just about every person I know who has any experience with writing or my topic,” Hoaglund said in an email. “I revised my essays at least 20 times (I lost count a long time ago).”
Hoaglund said she plans to study “the use of military force in humanitarian interventions” if she gets the scholarship and currently is “interested in working either as a professor studying international relations or at the U.N. as a researcher/advisor.”
Biochemistry junior Mubeen Shakir said the applications are a step closer to help him achieve his career goals.
“I ultimately hope to become a physician-scientist at an academic institution,” Shakir said in an email.
If Shakir is awarded one of the scholarships, he said he plans to obtain a Master’s degree in Oncology at either Oxford or Cambridge.
Scholarship winners will be announced in November.
“It’s kind of terrifying to think about the fact that there’s however many universities in [this region] and I’m trying to be one of [the recipients], ultimately,” Renner said. “That’s kind of exciting.”