SRU enhances support for students pursuing distinguished scholarships

Dr Rindy with Students

John Rindy, director of Slippery Rock University’s Office of Career Education and Development, and his staff are now leading the University’s Distinguished Scholarships and Fellowships program, which provides support services for students applying for highly competitive, merit-based national and international scholarships.

Dec. 15, 2017

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - More people are getting involved with Slippery Rock University's Distinguished Scholarships and Fellowships program, and that could mean more money in the pockets of SRU students.

Mohler headshot

   MOHLER

Earlier this semester, SRU's Office of Career Education and Development officially took over the direction of the University's Distinguished Scholarships and Fellowships program. The program provides support services such as coaching and informative workshops for students applying for highly competitive, merit-based national and international scholarships and fellowships. The program was previously assigned to faculty.

"Moving it to an office that is widely and deeply connected to everybody on campus just made a lot of sense," said John Rindy, director of career education and development, whose staff speaks to all SRU students in classrooms, at events like orientation and individually with nearly 4,000 career planning appointments each year. "It just seemed like a natural thing to expand opportunities to a broader array of students."

In addition to his office's reach, Rindy said the move made sense because of the resources his staff offers as career coaches.

"Much of what it takes to apply for a scholarship is very similar to some of the tasks we already do," said Rindy, noting interview prep, assistance writing essays and personal statements and guidance with task management. "We are doing that all the time to prepare people for graduate school."

Rindy, assistant director Renee Coyne and graduate assistant Jesse DeFazio will meet individually with students as coaches. There will continue to be close collaboration with faculty and the Honors Program, Rindy said. His office will also be scheduling a series of workshops and receptions to inform students of the great opportunities available. A recent reception drew 37 students.

The program currently helps students applying for national scholarships for undergraduate tuition and projects, and fellowships, which are for post-baccalaureate tuition and projects. Rindy's staff has already identified more than a dozen "focus" scholarships to emphasize with details such as selection criteria, timelines and application materials.

One such scholarship, the Goldwater Scholarship, interested Autumn Mohler, a sophomore environmental geosciences major from Marysville, Ohio.

Not only would the $7,500-per-year award benefit someone paying out-of-state tuition, but Mohler said she felt like the scholarship seemed like a "good play" because it was recently awarded to a student in her department: Blake Wallrich, a geology major from Pittsburgh, who was selected as one of 252 recipients of the more than 1,100 nationwide applicants in 2016.

"Because someone from my department got it, I have confidence; and our professors had helped someone achieve it," said Mohler, who after attending the reception set up an appointment to meet with Rindy the following week. "I thought (the reception) was very effective. If I hadn't taken advantage of that opportunity, I wouldn't have known these scholarships were available."

"When we get these students engaged, it almost becomes a club," Rindy said. "Once we have a cohort of people, it's more likely that they are going to follow through."

Because some of the applications require so much effort -- obtaining several letters of recommendation and writing multiple essays -- SRU will award a $250 personal distinction scholarship for applicants who submit an application for one of the eight "focus" scholarships, provided they complete certain steps.

"(The $250) is to attract new applicants and hopefully earn SRU some wins," Rindy said. "I'm confident that our students can compete with anybody out there and they ought to have the confidence that they can do this."

While Rindy touts SRU's competitive academic programs, 53.6 percent four-year graduation rate and employment rates that are 15 percent more than the national average, another reason SRU students should pursue distinguished scholarships is to deal with their financial need. Currently, 80 percent of SRU undergraduates who applied for need-based aid where determined to have financial need.

"Scholarships are good for students to defray costs and they are good for students because employers and graduate schools are going to see that they have these kind of wins," Rindy said. "This paves the way for the next step of their lives."

For a list of distinguished scholarships, click here.

For more information about the Distinguished Scholarships and Fellowships program, contact the Office of Career Education and Development at: 724.738.2028 or career.education@sru.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 | justin.zackal@sru.edu