Scholars helping scholars

Posted on Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Maud Mediell, France Gagnon, Thursica Kovinthan and Agata Soroko.
From left: Maud Mediell, Thursica Kovinthan, France Gagnon and Agata Soroko.
By Rebecca MacFarlane

A program at the University of Ottawa providing peer-to-peer assistance in preparing scholarship applications is proving to be successful.

Each year, graduate students, who made their own successful scholarship applications just a year earlier and know what it’s like to be in the shoes of current applicants, mentor students interested in applying now. 

The Scholarship Mentoring Program at the Faculty of Education was established in 2011 by Vice Dean and Faculty Secretary Nick Gazzola. It has several components: information sessions and proposal preparation workshops facilitated by Gazzola and the mentors, and individual appointments with mentors throughout the session.

By meeting with students one-on-one, mentors are able to provide precise, constructive feedback on the students’ research proposals. 

This year’s mentors include France Gagnon, Thursica Kovinthan, Maud Mediell, and Agata Soroko, who have received scholarships such as the OGS, International OGS and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.

Mentors assist graduate students with scholarship preparation and research development. 

“The element of communication is one of the most prominent things we concentrate on during the application process,” says Kovinthan. “It’s important that students know how to communicate their research to someone who doesn’t have a strong background in it."

For Gagnon, the program cultivates a “willingness to try your ideas on others, and get constructive feedback from peers. The application process can be so intimidating otherwise.”

“It’s a great program,” says mentor Agata Soroko, “because when you submit a draft of your proposal for feedback from your supervisor, it has already been reviewed and polished several times.” 

Another invaluable element of the program, says Mediell, is having a fresh set of eyes to review the applications. “Supervisors are already familiar with your work, so if there are gaps in your application, they may miss them because they are able to fill in the blanks in their own minds. We, as mentors, aren’t familiar with the work, so we’re better able to find those missing components in your proposal.”

For information about the Scholarship Mentoring Program, email the Office of the Vice Dean and Secretary.

Additionally, the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral has more on scholarships and financial assistance

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