I am very happy to introduce Ann-Marie as our new guest blogger. Not only is she my co-worker at the Graduate School Office, but she is also a phenomenal person. Her story is quite unique and inspiring.
Have you ever wanted to continue your studies abroad but had no support? Ever wanted to devote more time to volunteering but were too tied up with jobs and classes? I certainly felt this way as I dug through scholarship programs and post-graduate job opportunities. Then one morning, Dr. Folds-Bennett came by the Graduate School Office with a flyer describing the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. From the informational session, I learned that Rotary International (RI) offered a comprehensive study abroad scholarship for undergraduates and graduates to attend graduate school in any country of their choice, in any field of their choice. It’s an international scholarship but, recipients were selected locally.
The RI Scholarship is designed to accommodate the interests and skill sets of any applicant, because they understand that everyone’s talents can be used as an avenue for service. Some students used the scholarship to fund studies and projects in medical school, sustainable agriculture, and music. I thought to myself “why not give it a go?”
My background was in political science and French. As a Masters in Public Administration student I was interested in working for an international non-governmental organization focused on aid and development. Therefore, for the application, I chose three francophone developing countries in crises: Morocco, Haiti, and the Ivory Coast. Each country has rotary clubs and graduate programs in international development. It took a lot of research, and as I held my breath through the Arab Spring and the re-eruption of the Ivory Coast’s civil war. By the time I interviewed six months later, there were travel restrictions against two of my choices. Morocco, however, remained open to me.
The interviews were very stressful but my sponsoring club, the North Charleston Breakfast Club, was very supportive. I attended their club meetings and was trained on interviewing techniques and questions. Dr. Folds-Bennett and Dr. Sue Summer-Kresse at the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards were equally encouraging. They collected materials, guided plans of study, edited essays, and essentially walked me all through the long application process.
After three days of nail biting, I received a letter from the district in early August. “Congratulations!” I was elated! Rotary International will be sponsoring my graduate studies and volunteer work abroad for one year with a $27,000 scholarship.
My getting the sponsorship is just the first step-over the next year, before I leave, I must go through the application process for two Moroccan Schools, and I am attending the RI Conference in the spring. I don’t know what to expect and my anal retentive side demands a plan, a certain projection of what is to come. However, this scholarship is helping me learn to let go. I was ready to be lucky and now, I’m ready to be surprised. Here goes nothing!
-Ann-Marie Quinn, M.P.A. 2012
More information on the Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship can be found on the organization’s website www.rotary.org. Contact Dr. Trisha Folds-Bennett for application details and connections to sponsoring clubs at 843-953-6592 or email@example.com.