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Office of National and International Awards

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek." - President Barack Obama




The Office of National and International Awards (ONIA) is dedicated to guiding WCU students and alumni through the process of applying for national and international awards and other funding opportunities. We also coordinate nominations for national fellowships and serve as a resource for students and faculty across campus.

About Us

Learn more about ONIA's mission, our student scholarship recepients and our leadership.

Explore Scholarships

Whether you are a freshman or a senior, there are lots of opportunities for you to explore. Take a look at the various awards scholarships available and their respective deadlines and make an appointment today to learn more about how you can apply.

Get Started

What are the benefits of applying for a prestigious award, in addition to the funding you will receive for study abroad or post-graduate studies? Find out how you can get started to apply for an award today.


We provide guidance through every step of the process, starting with workshops and informational sessions on a variety of nationally competitive awards and scholarships for students, in addition to helping faculty navigate the wide variety of fellowship programs and connecting available students to these sources.

Welcome to ONIA Student Resources, we're looking forward to working with you! Below, you will find an overview of the resources, tools, and support offered for WCU students and alumni interested in applying to national and international scholarships and awards.

What Makes a Great Candidate?

There is no one way to be a successful fellowship or scholarship candidate. The following advice provides some ways you can combine your skills, interests, and talents, to better prepare for a competitive scholarship or award. The good news is that you will learn a lot in the process, whether it leads to a an award or not.

Build a Strong Academic Record!

  • Maintain good grades – most national awards have high GPA expectations.
  • Take challenging courses that will help you become a good communicator. 
  • Pursue multiple majors or add a minor or certificate such as 

    WCU’s Leadership (LEAD) Minor.

  • Diversify your course selection.
  • Find courses that will build skills related to areas you want to focus on.

Get Involved Outside of the Classroom!


Western Carolina University has established itself as a national leader in undergraduate research and has ranked in the Top 10 for the number of projects accepted to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research annually since 2006.  How can you get involved? Tell your advisor or favorite professor that you are interested in undergraduate research. If you have a declared major, talk to your Department Head to ask about undergraduate research in your major and to get tips on which faculty members will help you get started. Find out about financial support from WCU’s Undergraduate Research Programs.

  • Find internships or jobs on campus or in the community to help you get experience in your field.
  • Get to know your professors outside of the classroom by visiting office hours and attending lectures and events on campus.
  • Make time for service. Talk to an advisor in WCU’s award-winning Service Learning program.
  • Run for an office in the Student Government Association.

Be an Aware, Global Citizen!

  • Get to know the world, study abroad. Meet with an advisor in WCU’s Office of Global Engagement.

Resources Provided by WCU ONIA

    • ONIA Information Sessions - The Office of National and International Awards offers at least two information sessions each semester, providing an opportunity to learn more about awards and scholarships you might be eligible to apply. See the calndear section of our website for more details on these events.
    • Scholarship Writing Workshops - The Office of National and International Awards offers a variety of workshops to help you prepare for the scholarships that you are interested in. A workshop schedule and description of the workshops are available on the calendar section of our website.
    • One-on-One Scholarship Advising - All students interested in a national or international award should schedule an appointment as early in their career as possible with the Director of ONIA. Individualized mentoring will help students build personal portfolios that emphasize achievements and the qualities necessary to successfully apply for national awards.

You have done all the work necessary to preapre and now you feel ready and qualified to apply. Guess what? From now on, that’s the norm for the applicant pools when you’re applying for an award. To stand out in a crowd of smart, interesting people, you have to:

Be Confident: You have to promote yourself and highlight all your accomplishments and ambitions.

Be Specific: When scholarship committees read through hundred applications, the students they remember are the ones with rich, specific details in their essays.

Be Yourself: Tell your story. How did you get here? What obsticles you have had to overcome? How have you turned your challenges into advantages and opportunities? You have to trust that you are unique and demonstrate what personal qualities you will bring to the experience.

Other tips:

  • Show, don’t tell!
  • Be clear and straight-forward in style.
  • Expect to write multiple drafts edited by multiple people.
  • Follow directions!
  • Get Feedback
    Feedback is crucial when it comes to personal statements. At a minimum, ask someone to proofread your application. You should also ask trusted advisors for constructive criticism. The Office of National anad International Awards (ONIA) specializes in helping students with scholarship applications. Email the Office of Fellowships at , or make an appointment with Dr. Bego

Getting Great Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are an important component of your scholarship or fellowship application. These tips will help you get great letters.

Whom do you ask?

  • Check the criteria first. Do they require writers have the title of professor? Do they want an advisor, a community member, or a work supervisor?
  • Think about who knows you best. Fellowships committees are looking to get some insight from someone who knows you and your work well.

When do you ask?

Early! Aim to give recommenders at least one month before the deadline. Less than two weeks is a risky bet.

How do you ask?

  • Ask politely, ideally in person. Make an appointment. Ask in your own words: “Would you be able to provide a strong letter for me?”
  • Provide information: Tell the writer why you are asking them.
    • Did an aspect of the course inspire you to choose your major? Does the scholarship relate to a project you worked on for the course?
    • Create a bulleted list with details on how you know the writer: When did you meet? What courses did you take? How else did you interact?
    • Give them a copy of your resume or CV and, potentially, essay drafts or a copy of your student academic summary.
    • If you’re applying for multiple awards or programs, give them a full list including deadlines and submission details.
  • You should waive your right to read the letters. Confidential letters are preferred, and in some cases required, by fellowship foundations.
  • Send a polite reminder and thank you a week before the deadline.
  • Follow up later thanking them and letting them know the results!


Notice: Remember, some times letter writers need to submit letters to the Director of ONIA. If so, provide this information to your writers via email as a follow-up to your conversation.

A statement of intent (or study) can be a number of things. It could be an explanation of why you should receive the scholarship or it could be a detailed account of what you plan to do with the funding you will receive.

Academic/Project Proposal-Common Elements: 

  • A description of your course of study or project; topic(s), research focus, degree goals, methodology, itinerary, (budget).
  • Why you have chosen this course of study (at this particular institution, in this particular country) Or why you want to undertake this project in this particular setting.
  • Evidence that your plans are consistent with your preparation, academic qualifications, and long-term goals.
  • Evidence of project feasibility: knowledge of programs, courses, and facilities; cooperation of host institutions and individuals (professors with whom you wish to study; have they sent or are they willing to send a confirmation of their support?).
  • Perhaps why you are choosing a new area of study, or what makes your project particularly timely.

Letters of recommendation are crucial to a student’s success in applying for a prestigious national or international award. After the student’s own essays, they are the most influential part of an application. As such, your role as a letter writer is fundamental.

These tips are intended to help you tailor your letter for the scholarship competition at hand If you have questions or need additional resources, please email the Office of National and International Awards,

Address the Scholarship Criteria

  • Each fellowship or scholarship has a specific set of criteria that they want the letters to address. Note that what may be useful in a recommendation for graduate school or a job is not always well regarded by scholarship committees. Most of these awards are interested in much more than what a student did in the classroom.
  • Familiarize yourself with the mission of the foundation, and find concrete examples of the way that the student meets their expectations.
  • For some awards, you may need to explicitly address a specific topic in your letter, such as leadership.
  • Some foundations provide very specific advice (Goldwater, Truman, Marshall, Rhodes), which we encourage you to read.

Be Specific

  • Provide important details and examples about the student's work especially as they relate to the particular scholarship criteria.
  • Often, prestigious scholarship committees are interested in a student's character and work ethic. Provide details that might set your students apart from other applicants, challenges barriers they have overcome. 
  • Use detail whenever possible (i.e. “This student is in the top 1% of students in my class of …”).

Make an appointment with Dr. Bego today to learn more about the various awards and scholarships available to you. We look forward to assisting you in planning the next steps in your academic careers.

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