Seeking the Best and Brightest
The search is on for current students with the qualities of Sarah Coffey.
Coffey ’18 is the most recent example at Stetson of winning distinguished scholarships and fellowships during her time on campus. She became the university’s first Environmental Values Fellow as a first-year student, a 2016 Udall Scholar for her environmental initiatives and engagement with the Stetson community, and a 2017 Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow by virtue of her social-justice activism.
Not coincidentally, Coffey was presented the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award at Commencement, jointly conferred by Stetson and the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation — emblematic of “nobility of character” and service to others. (Adam Cooper, a chemistry major, won the honor last year as the male recipient.)
For many decades, Stetson students have been competitive applicants for national and international scholarships, fellowships and grants for both undergraduate and post-graduate study. Yet, now the quest to identify the university’s best and brightest has intensified, led by Grace Kaletski-Maisel, Stetson’s learning and information literacy librarian who also has become the inaugural Research and External Scholarships Advisor.
Kaletski-Maisel serves as administrative support, working with students, faculty and staff in the pursuit of those distinguished honors, which include the well-known Fulbright and Rhodes scholarships, among many others.
“The goal of this position is to enhance Stetson’s advising capacity in providing new student research opportunities and promoting competitiveness for elite scholarships, fellowships and awards,” she said.
Consider, for instance, that a Rhodes Scholarship provides full financial support for college graduates to pursue a degree at the University of Oxford in England and may allow funding in some instances for four years.
And Kaletski-Maisel is seeking to promote those opportunities to students as early as possible. “First-year students should know early about these opportunities,” she added.
Most recently, two general information sessions, held April 22-23, welcomed all comers and attracted 98 students.
Casting such a wider net will enable Stetson not only to identify superior achievers, but also provide equitable pathways for all students, according to Rosalie Richards, Ph.D., associate provost for faculty development. While some students might be introverted and/or reluctant to step forward, others could be overlooked, she noted.
“What happens to those students who don’t get cultivated, or don’t have the fortunate circumstance of meeting a certain professor and having a certain academic experience?” Richards asked, rhetorically.
This new concerted effort to “open the gate and increase access,” as she described, could make a big difference.
“More students need to know,” Richards concluded. “We need to increase awareness, so that we have a bigger pool of scholarship and fellowship candidates. And if we have a bigger pool, the likelihood of students being successful as award recipients will increase.”
– Michael Candelaria