Be Like a Proton: challenges and takeaways when applying to graduate school

[vc_row][vc_column][mpc_button preset=”preset_2″ url=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.laspau.harvard.edu%2Fscholarblog%2F|||” font_preset=”default” font_size=”12″ font_transform=”none” font_align=”inherit” title=”SCHOLAR AMBASSADOR BLOG” background_color=”#ffffff” border_css=”border-width:2px;border-color:#165a5a;border-style:solid;” padding_divider=”true” padding_css=”padding-top:6px;padding-right:10px;padding-bottom:6px;padding-left:10px;” margin_divider=”true” margin_css=”margin-top:25px;” hover_font_color=”#ffffff” hover_background_color=”#165a5a” mpc_tooltip__preset=”mpc_preset_28″ mpc_tooltip__position=”right” mpc_tooltip__show_effect=”slide” mpc_tooltip__font_preset=”mpc_preset_22″ mpc_tooltip__font_color=”#f7f7f7″ mpc_tooltip__font_size=”12″ mpc_tooltip__font_line_height=”1.7″ mpc_tooltip__font_transform=”capitalize” mpc_tooltip__font_align=”center” mpc_tooltip__text=”UmVhZCUyME1vcmUlMjBTdG9yaWVz” mpc_tooltip__background_type=”gradient” mpc_tooltip__background_gradient=”#a01e24||#e62824||0;100||118||linear” mpc_tooltip__border_css=”border-width:1px;border-color:#a01e24;border-style:solid;” mpc_tooltip__padding_divider=”true” mpc_tooltip__padding_css=”padding-top:3px;padding-right:20px;padding-bottom:3px;padding-left:20px;”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

By: Fernando Antonio Rebolledo Uscanga – a Fulbright COMEXUS scholar from Mexico and a PhD fellow in Biomedical/Medical Engineering at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Speaking, writing and interacting in a language that is not your native one is definitely challenging. It is not easy to express yourself with the same freedom that you have when you speak in your first language. The words, phrases, expressions, are all different, and as you learn a new language you have to accept that there is nothing wrong with making mistakes.

Similarly, the process of applying to graduate programs is challenging. There is a long list or requirements to apply to schools. Academic transcripts, Curriculum Vitae (CV), Letters of Recommendation, the intricate Statement of Purpose and lastly, the terrifying standardized tests, which such as the TOEFL iBT and GRE or GMAT exams. These standardized tests are considered the most important part of your application. Well, I will counter this assumption, I think this is wrong. Why? Because graduate schools are looking for unique candidates. The admissions committee reviews the application materials for your candidacy as a whole, which demonstrate the kind of person you are, and what you are going to bring to the program and school. Through your application, the committee can identify your cultural background, your way of thinking, your reasoning and your diverse opinions about key global issues. Most of these characteristics may be conveyed through your Statement of Purpose and through it the admissions team could better understand who you are, how you think, and how you approach problems and solve them.

My recommendation for success in the application process to graduate school is to be yourself.

The standardized tests might seem frightening, but like any other required application component, they represent one part of a whole. The standardized exams do not necessarily measure your intelligence or capability, but rather your effort and how well you understood the rules of testing. Getting a high score does not equate to being qualified or being the right individual to pursue graduate studies. At the end of the day, standardized exams are tricky but a low score doesn’t mean that you would not be able to succeed in a graduate program. Getting a low score is in fact, fairly common. If the first time was a problem, then try it another time, and another and as many times as you need. One strategy I would recommend is to check out free resources that ETS offers online and watch a variety of lessons on YouTube. Remember to stay positive that the next time you take the exam it will be better. As one famous high school basketball coach in the U.S., Morgan Wootten, would say, “You learn more from losing than winning. You learn how to keep going”, so keep going. You are almost there. And yes… I took the exam more than once.

Another important factor during the application process is to be prepared with your university search. “Where are you going to apply?” is a common bottleneck for many applicants. “Where do you want to go for graduate studies? Is it feasible? What do you need to do in order to get accepted?” After thinking about all of these factors, it is essential to prepare yourself as best as you can and apply. Reach out to professors (also known as faculty advisors) that you want to work with, share with them your academic interests, ask them questions about the program, and make sure to carry your confidence along the way.

Confidence is so important during the application process to graduate programs because it demonstrates your capability that the admissions committee wants to see in you in order to make decision to whether accept or deny your candidacy to the program.

To restate my recommendation, confidence is shaped by how you present yourself to the committee, how unique you are, and how you can defend your ideas and goals.

Same recommendation goes to those interested in applying to highly competitive institutions. Although my GRE and TOEFL iBT scores were fair, I applied to some competitive graduate programs. I believed in myself and decided to apply even though some people advised me that I wouldn’t get accepted.

I was admitted. My overall application was strong enough to be considered.

Be positive, like a proton.

The process is certainly about how much effort you put in order to accomplish and reach your dreams. Every step that you are walking through is worthwhile. It is a road that will definitely lead you to success. My motto is to “Believe in you, believe in yourself deep down.”

[vc_row][vc_column][mk_mini_callout]Disclaimer: This blog is not an official Fulbright Program site. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of the author and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

 

 

[/mk_mini_callout][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3392″ img_size=”70 x 70″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][mk_padding_divider size=”10″][vc_single_image image=”3393″ img_size=”350 x 100″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Mexico’s First Mixe Fulbright Scholar Is Working to Improve the Lives of Indigenous Farmers

[vc_row][vc_column][mpc_button preset=”preset_2″ url=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.laspau.harvard.edu%2Fscholarblog%2F|||” font_preset=”default” font_size=”12″ font_transform=”none” font_align=”inherit” title=”SCHOLAR AMBASSADOR BLOG” background_color=”#ffffff” border_css=”border-width:2px;border-color:#165a5a;border-style:solid;” padding_divider=”true” padding_css=”padding-top:6px;padding-right:10px;padding-bottom:6px;padding-left:10px;” margin_divider=”true” margin_css=”margin-top:25px;” hover_font_color=”#ffffff” hover_background_color=”#165a5a” mpc_tooltip__preset=”mpc_preset_28″ mpc_tooltip__position=”right” mpc_tooltip__show_effect=”slide” mpc_tooltip__font_preset=”mpc_preset_22″ mpc_tooltip__font_color=”#f7f7f7″ mpc_tooltip__font_size=”12″ mpc_tooltip__font_line_height=”1.7″ mpc_tooltip__font_transform=”capitalize” mpc_tooltip__font_align=”center” mpc_tooltip__text=”UmVhZCUyME1vcmUlMjBTdG9yaWVz” mpc_tooltip__background_type=”gradient” mpc_tooltip__background_gradient=”#a01e24||#e62824||0;100||118||linear” mpc_tooltip__border_css=”border-width:1px;border-color:#a01e24;border-style:solid;” mpc_tooltip__padding_divider=”true” mpc_tooltip__padding_css=”padding-top:3px;padding-right:20px;padding-bottom:3px;padding-left:20px;”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Scholar: Tania Eulalia Martínez – a Fulbright COMEXUS scholar from Mexico holds a Master’s degree in Agricultural and Byosistems Engineering at University of Arizona. Currently, she is a PhD candidate at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Contributor: Yara Simón, senior culture editor at Remezcla.

Three years ago, before Tania Eulalia Martínez left Mexico to pursue a doctorate in Holland, her Abuelita Eulalia had one request: “Take this shawl with you. I want you to tell those who live over there, in that other world, who we are, how we live, and what we do. Take it so that you can remember us, so that you don’t forget us.” But what the late Eulalia may not have realized at the time is that Tania’s studies would bring her closer to the Mixe community. As she pursues a Ph.D. at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, Tania’s devoted to improving the lives of Mexico’s indigenous populations.

“I feel committed to giving something back to my country, and the area where I can do it is in the agricultural sector,” she said. “The technical background is important, but so are the social aspects. I want to help agricultural projects reach more people who have been marginalized, and to do so, I have to better understand the social and cultural contexts in which these projects take place. I want not just to create technologies and techniques to solve problems, but to understand the lives of indigenous peoples and farmers, so I can be more efficient as a scientist in helping them. I am an engineer learning to be a social scientist.”

Read the full story on Remezcla’s website >>


Follow
Tania on Twitter @tania_eulalia
Follow Yara on Twitter @SaraYimon

 

[vc_row][vc_column][mk_mini_callout]Disclaimer: This blog is not an official Fulbright Program site. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of the author and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

 

[/mk_mini_callout][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3392″ img_size=”70 x 70″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][mk_padding_divider size=”10″][vc_single_image image=”3393″ img_size=”350 x 100″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Looking back at why it took me ten years to apply to Fulbright

[vc_row][vc_column][mpc_button preset=”preset_2″ url=”url:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.laspau.harvard.edu%2Fscholarblog%2F|||” font_preset=”default” font_size=”12″ font_transform=”none” font_align=”inherit” title=”SCHOLAR AMBASSADOR BLOG” background_color=”#ffffff” border_css=”border-width:2px;border-color:#165a5a;border-style:solid;” padding_divider=”true” padding_css=”padding-top:6px;padding-right:10px;padding-bottom:6px;padding-left:10px;” margin_divider=”true” margin_css=”margin-top:25px;” hover_font_color=”#ffffff” hover_background_color=”#165a5a” mpc_tooltip__preset=”mpc_preset_28″ mpc_tooltip__position=”right” mpc_tooltip__show_effect=”slide” mpc_tooltip__font_preset=”mpc_preset_22″ mpc_tooltip__font_color=”#f7f7f7″ mpc_tooltip__font_size=”12″ mpc_tooltip__font_line_height=”1.7″ mpc_tooltip__font_transform=”capitalize” mpc_tooltip__font_align=”center” mpc_tooltip__text=”UmVhZCUyME1vcmUlMjBTdG9yaWVz” mpc_tooltip__background_type=”gradient” mpc_tooltip__background_gradient=”#a01e24||#e62824||0;100||118||linear” mpc_tooltip__border_css=”border-width:1px;border-color:#a01e24;border-style:solid;” mpc_tooltip__padding_divider=”true” mpc_tooltip__padding_css=”padding-top:3px;padding-right:20px;padding-bottom:3px;padding-left:20px;”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

By: Magaly Preciado Reyes – a Fulbright COMEXUS scholar from Mexico and a Master’s degree candidate in International Development and Social Change at Clark University.

I was once in South Korea for ten days on a trip for work, and I missed the Mexican corn tortillas. Years later, I moved to Mexico City, again because of work, and I got used to missing my family and the place that was most familiar to me: the beautiful Tijuana. Situated in the northern border of Mexico (south of California, USA), Tijuana is the place where I was born and raised.

With scholarships, I pursued both high school and undergraduate studies at Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior (CETYS), a university located in Baja California (Mexico). For more than seven years of my academic experience at CETYS, my studies were fully supported. My family and I could not be more grateful as this financial support enabled me to pursue studies that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Naturally, when I realized it was time to continue my academic pursuits the first thing that came to mind was to look for a scholarship.

In front of the Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior (CETYS) stadium in Tijuana, Mexico

I learned about the Fulbright program back when I was studying at CETYS, and I remember thinking about how rewarding it would be to reach a point in my academic and professional life where I felt ready to submit an application, and also how implausible it would be to get awarded such a prestigious scholarship. The years passed while I was advancing in my professional experience and continuing my academic training with courses, diplomas and extracurricular activities. While there was always an immediate and tangible reason for every professional decision I made, somewhere in my head I pondered whether taking the next step would bring me closer to that point where I felt ready to submit a Fulbright application, because this was the long-term goal. I wanted to have international academic experience, increase my multicultural understanding, immerse myself into classrooms that would allow me to reflect on my practice, and have discussions with like-minded people.

Nevertheless, when that moment came and I felt I was academically and professionally ready to apply, I decided not to because of a barrier I hadn’t anticipated: the fear of not getting the scholarship. I was left pondering “What would I do if I am not selected? What would that say about me?” I could not continue my academic studies without financial support, and I had no plan B. So, the years passed, and I avoided applying to Fulbright because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be awarded the scholarship; most importantly, I wanted to avoid the painful exposure to the message that begins, “We regret to inform you…”

Now, just a few months away from graduating with a master’s degree at Clark University, I look back at why it took me all these years to apply to Fulbright and still think of the fortune and privilege, as well as the implausibility, of being granted this scholarship. I am grateful for what I have accomplished in my professional pursuits so far, but also in my personal accomplishments for overcoming my own fears, especially my fear of failure.

First semester at Clark University, Massachusetts, USA

During my first week of arrival in the United States for the Fulbright Gateway Orientation at Northern Illinois University, I had the privilege to meet students from over forty countries. Amidst all the excitement about beginning our studies in different U.S. higher education institutions, it was clear that we all shared stories of persistence and ambition toward becoming a Fulbrighter. In one way or another, regardless of our cultural differences, all of us went through competitive selection process, but also had to overcome personal battles with our own fears.

My message to those who are still undecided about whether to apply to Fulbright or any other scholarship program is that it is worthwhile.

It is worthwhile to go through the long application process; it is worthwhile to overcome your own personal battles. At the end of the day, it was just as feasible for me to receive a decision letter saying, “We regret to inform you…” In fact, the day I understood that such an adverse outcome was valid and acceptable, and that I shouldn’t be afraid or regret trying, was the same day I decided to apply.

Fortunately, I am now at Clark University and missing everything that is familiar to me, just like that time in South Korea when I missed freshly made Mexican corn tortillas!

During the Fulbright Gateway Orientation at Northern Illinois University, Chicago
During the Fulbright Gateway Orientation at Northern Illinois University, Chicago

[vc_row][vc_column][mk_mini_callout]Disclaimer: This blog is not an official Fulbright Program site. The views expressed on this site are entirely those of the author and do not represent the views of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

 

[/mk_mini_callout][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”3392″ img_size=”70 x 70″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][mk_padding_divider size=”10″][vc_single_image image=”3393″ img_size=”350 x 100″][/vc_column][/vc_row]