Nationally Competitive Scholarships & Fellowships

One of the graduation requirements Institute members forget the most is writing the essay section of a nationally competitive scholarship or fellowship. This task can seem daunting, but it really isn’t as bad as it seems. However, with schoolwork and extracurriculars, experts recommend starting the writing process the spring before the application is due. To help all of you out, we’ve compiled a list of nationally competitive scholarships:

Rhodes Scholarship allows students in varied disciplines to study at Oxford University for about two years to earn a “taught master’s degree.” This is one of the most prestigious scholarships you can receive, so serious applicants usually begin preparing their essays for a Rhodes Scholarship as early as the spring semester of their junior year.

The British Marshall Scholarship enables US college graduates to study for a degree in any subject at a university in the United Kingdom for two to three years. The program looks for tomorrow’s leader: for high intelligence and academic achievement; for social commitment and responsibility; for leadership potential; and for originality and flair.

The U.S. Fulbright Graduate Student Program awards a fairly open-ended grant given to recent graduates, master’s or doctoral candidates, and young professionals the opportunity to develop themselves. Grantees can plan their own program, including any university course work, independent library or field research, classes in a music conservatory or art school, special projects in the social or life sciences, or a combination of these either domestically or internationally.

The James Madison Memorial Fellowship is given to graduating seniors who plan to teach American history, government, or social studies. It pays for a master’s program that has at least twelve semester hours or the equivalent in topics directly related to the framing and history of the Constitution of the United States. To apply, you must agree to teach full time in a secondary school for at least one year for each year you had the fellowship and agree to attend a Summer Institute on the Constitution.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is awarded to juniors to help them prepare for careers in public service and can be renewed for up to two years afterward. The application for this program goes to someone at Michigan Tech to nominate you. You should also have an extensive record of public and community service and perhaps have had an internship or summer job with government agencies.

The National Science Foundation awards fellowships for a maximum of a three year tenure period to graduates who are looking to attain a research-based master’s or doctorate’s degree in the fields of math, physics, biology, engineering, behavioral, and social sciences, and in the history of science and the philosophy of science. Awards are also made for work toward a research-based doctorate in science education. To apply, you must take the GRE general test and should take the GRE subject test in the science or engineering field that relates most to your area of graduate study.

The Hughes Predoctoral Fellowships in Biological Sciences are awarded to students at or near the beginning of their graduate studies looking to complete a Ph.D. in the fields of biological sciences. The fellowship award is for three years initially, but can be extended for an additional two years. In order to apply, you must score on the GRE general test, and it is highly recommended that you take the GRE subject test that most closely relates to your field of study.

The American Association of University Women Educational Foundation Fellowships and Grants are awarded to women in different categories. The Dissertation Fellowships are awarded to women in all fields except engineering who plan on finishing their dissertation; applicants are expected to receive a doctorate’s at the end of the fellowship year. Selected Professions Fellowships are given to women in designated fields where female participation has been traditionally low. Science and technology fellowships are awarded to women in STEM fields that are in their last year of a master’s program. International Scholarships are available for non-citizens or non-permanent residents in the US who are pursuing graduate studies or research.

The Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowships for Research Related to Education are awarded to candidates for a doctoral degree in any field of study. To apply, you must plan to undertake research aimed at improving education.

This is not an exhaustive list, as there are many other scholarships or fellowships out there. If you want help in applying for a scholarship or fellowship, contact Dr. Andrew Storer ( or former Institute Director Dr. Mary Durfee (

Introducing Rory Straubel, Vice President of Operations

Hey everyone. Just thought I’d put up a blog article to introduce myself and the Operations Committee. As you’re probably aware, my name is Rory Straubel and I’m a first year Computer Engineering major.

Pleasantries aside, what am I doing as the Operations VP in the Honors Institute? Well, upon learning about the Institute during my first general meeting, I had similar feelings to a lot of my classmates, “This seems like more work than it is worth; what’s the point?” Instead of sitting back and complaining, I decided to do something about it. I joined the Membership and Communication Committees last semester, but soon realized that I had not gone high enough to achieve my goal.

So here I am now, VP of Operations. It’s my main goal to use my power over the budget to better spread the wealth. Right now, 90% of Institute funds goes to funding five members’ SURFs (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships). My budgetary plan is to reduce the number of SURFs that the Institute funds so that there is more money for the general membership. This may include things like free color printing.

Another important item to note is that the Institute has funds set aside to send people to conferences, poster presentations, ect. all over the country. If there is somewhere you’d like to go to enhance your education, you can get funding from the Institute. This is a little-known perk of membership and should be taken advantage of.

If you have any interest in making the Institute a more rewarding organization, as I do, you should consider joining my committee. We meet Wednesdays at 8:30pm in the Honor’s House basement. You can contact me any time at if you have any questions or suggestions.

Have a good week,



There are many perks to being a part of an Honors Institute that provides a variety of opportunities. This seems fairly obvious. What may not be so obvious is that you yourself need to take advantage of these opportunities. Just by being in the Honors Institute has given you a head start, but if you don’t make the most of your membership, then you won’t make the most of your college career.

Being a part of the Honors Institute requires you to hold yourself to higher academic standards than other students at Tech. Even though this can prove challenging and stressful, it will be worth it in the end. When looking for a job, companies will see that you are a part of an honors program and that you have a high GPA. These companies will instantly know that you study hard and are willing to learn. They will also see that slacking off is not in your daily repertoire. You know the saying “Hard work pays off in the end”? Well, it does. One of the most valuable assets in your life will be showing people that you are not afraid to put forth the effort to accomplish your goals.

Of course, doing well academically is not the only thing companies will be looking for when you look for a job. Many companies look to see if you have good leadership skills. You can never have too many leadership skills, and one way to put these skills to the test is to get involved. How to get involved? By becoming a more active member of your very own Honors Institute! There are several ways to become more involved in the Institute and it is never too late to do so. One way of doing this is to join a sub-committee. The sub-committees that are in place are communications, operations, membership, and programs and services. Sub-committees work on different projects throughout the academic year. Starting off by involving yourself even a little bit will help for you to potentially obtain a leadership position in the Institute. It will also help to grow your network of colleagues.

Another huge benefit of being in the Honors Institute is the numerous opportunities for conducting your own research. When it comes to research, the Institute provides vague guidelines as to how the project ought to be carried out. This is to encourage students to pursue research in subjects that they are interested in, not necessarily connecting to their major. In addition, this allows students to shape their Honors experience the way they want. By researching a variety of interests, Institute members can make their college experience as unique as possible, while getting a leg up on competition for their future career. Find out more about how to complete projects in a previous Institute blog article.

All in all, taking part in the opportunities that are provided by the Honors Institute will definitely benefit you in the long run. So come on by, meet new people, and gain new experience. Take advantage of the opportunities that are being offered to you; you will be glad you did.

How to Complete a Contract

As to avoid any confusion, what are currently known as “contracts” will be called “projects” in the future and this article.

As a member of the Honors Institute, you have to complete three projects over your time here at Michigan Tech. At first, the idea of setting aside twenty hours each for three projects may seem a bit daunting; fitting a one hour meeting into your schedule is challenging enough as it is. Coming up with a new, creative idea that benefits the university might not seem like the easiest task. Don’t worry though, other Institute members are bound to be in the same boat. Take a deep breath; you have four years to complete three twenty hour projects, but don’t procrastinate either. The goal is to complete one project each year.

The objective of these projects is to allow you to investigate a topic that you find intriguing. They are also supposed to challenge you and force you to think outside of the box. These projects are vague and open-ended to allow for unique and creative ideas. Projects can take different forms, such as a class presentation or a research paper; attending a conference and presenting the topic in an informative way to a class or group is another way to complete a project.

Start off simple; think of all the things that you’re interested in, whether it be a hobby, a sport, an extracurricular activity, or, most importantly, your major. Find a project that lets you explore one of your interests on your own. In the past, people have done all sorts of awesome things for their project. Remember that you have a variety of options when it comes to your project. Play the trumpet? Learn the physics of your instrument to benefit education in music and science. Think your tuition is too high? Research the loss of energy through the windows of a residence hall lounge in order to find out ways to conserve heat and money. Still bored? Create a new and improved, and a bit chaotic, version of baseball to show off that the Michigan Tech Honors Institute is inventive and good at troubleshooting.

Don’t fret too much about the benefit to the university; you don’t have to make a life-changing discovery that gets you a building named after you. Although that would be nice, it’s not a requirement. Your benefit can be as simple as paving the way for the new, crazy, creative ideas of future Honors students, or proving to the world that Michigan Tech’s students are as innovative as we take pride in.

Once you have brainstormed and decided on an idea for your project, meet with a faculty member that has experience or has done research similar to your idea. Have them fill out or review the contract form with you, which you can download from the Institute website. After the faculty member has signed the project, bring it to the Director of the Honors Institute and get their approval. With the approval of both the faculty member and the Director, you’re free to complete the project. When you’re done, bring it back to the faculty member and Director, and have them both sign off on the completed form. The completed form can be submitted on Canvas as an assignment.

Be sure to know that funding is on a competitive basis and lab equipment can be accessed at the discretion of your sponsoring faculty member. These projects and their titles will show up on your transcript, so make the most of it. Most importantly, challenge yourself and have fun!

Constitution Odds and Ends

I know you’re probably all sick of hearing about the constitution, so this is one of the last pieces you’ll see on it. There are two issues that the Executive Board has been getting questions on that they’d like to see cleared up: appointment vs. election and what’s going to happen now that the constitution has been ratified.

If you participated in the vote of confidence about the method of filling executive team decisions, you might be a bit confused as to why the new constitution looks nothing like any of the options presented in that vote. It’s mostly because while there was no clear winner between options, a few patterns emerged from the results. It was obvious that members wanted to have a say in who was on the Executive Team. The results also pointed to the fact that a majority of members wanted some sort of appointment, rather than a free-for-all election.

When the Executive Board sat down to make a decision, they kept these two facts in mind. While option for a sequential election during a general meeting had a slight edge in the vote of confidence, this option was logistically impossible. Institute members, being highly involved students, are very difficult to get together at one time. Sequential elections online required members to vote five times, and they sometimes don’t even vote once as it is. Proxy voting could lead to cheating and other disasters.

Appointment by the Executive Team had some attractions. It stands to reason that the Executive Team, which has the four committee chairs on it, would know the most involved, skilled, and passionate people in the Institute. This kind of appointment also encourages a leadership structure in which interested members within the Institute learn and work for a year or two and are better prepared for the broad scope of the Executive Team. This kind of power, though, needs a check, so the Executive Board listened to the vote of confidence results and let the membership decide. Instead of voting yes or no on the whole Executive Team, though, members can vote on an individual nomination for a position. A majority vote against a particular nomination would trigger an open election, allowing anyone to run.

In the end, the Executive Board made what it thought was the most fair decision that kept the future of the Institute in mind.

Now that the new constitution has passed, we have five interim Executive Team members: Andrew Hoekstra as President, Anna Waller as Vice President of Membership, Brad Villeneuve as Vice President of Programs and Services, Kerry King as Vice President of Communications, and Beccie Manshaem as Vice President of Operations. These positions are temporary, and there will be a confirmation vote within the week. If the majority of members vote no on any of these officers, the position will go up for open election.

The class representatives will stay (almost) the same. That is, Mari Caamano as Armstrong Representative, Joe Grocholski as Wright Brothers Representative, Kaleb Horn as Mendeleev Representative, and Briana Bettin as Schrodinger and older Representative. These positions, since they were elected, will remain the same and will not go up for re-election.

If you have any questions, as always, please email

Benefits of Being a Member of the Honors Institute

Salutations to the Honors Institute. Today, I’ve got a bit of a story to tell all of you. Earlier I woke up, planned out my day and saw that I had a huge portion of my time dedicated to Honors activities. Now, this isn’t my easiest day of the week, especially when I have an exam to study for. So, as you can imagine, I was fairly bummed out that I would need to give up some time for a Honors meeting along with taking time to write a blog (congratulations, you guys get to be my 5:30 appointment). As I sat looking at my schedule I found myself asking, “is it worth it?” Well, in a word I would say, “absolutely.” In a blog, I would say this:

Being in the Honors Institute is a significant privilege. Members get respect not garnered in other programs, we are exposed to accomplished individuals through our meetings, we get powerful letters of recommendation, we have something to supplement our resumes, and we get the chance to enhance ourselves through personal contracts that allow us to explore something of our own curiosity (and these are just the surface benefits). These are the things we hear when we speak to people about the Honors Institute. We know how these opportunities work. We get prestige in exchange for time and contracts, it’s a highly regarded organization, and so on and so forth. These opportunities are important, and alone would be enough for me to join. However, I feel like some of the best benefits of being in the Institute are overlooked, in the same way that a fish overlooks water.

The Honors Institute brings out the best in its members. It does this by immersing them in a culture with other Honors students. This in itself can make someone into a better student, in the same way that someone becomes a better athlete by participating in athletic activities with other skilled athletes. Those in the Honors Institute are exposed to fellow students who are motivated and intelligent. Together, they help to bring out the best in one another through academic and professional activities carried out by the Honors Institute.

Another subtle advantage of being in the Honors Institute comes from the respect members get from authority figures. When individuals with prestige respect someone more, that person gets to communicate with them more often and have more meaningful conversation, which provides us with practice speaking to interviewers or teachers while at the same time allowing us to learn about this not covered in typical curriculum.

Being able to have these opportunities sets the Honors Institute apart. On the surface, our contracts, resumes, and exposure to accomplished individuals are all that one expects them to be. Then, along with that, there are effects that the unspoken opportunities have on members as well. The fellowship and professionalism that is cultivated in members really helps set them apart as capable individuals on campus, which then translates into the members being capable in life.


(Appointment Vs. Election)

Hello again to my honorable audience, it’s been a while. Recently, I had the pleasure of attending and participating in the debate on the new constitution, specifically the process of filling executive positions. On the one hand, there are those who find appointment appealing, and on the other there are those who find it appalling, for them, election is the only avenue.

It was those in favor of election who introduced the first topic of the debate, democracy. The advocators for election argue that, “democracy is what Americans should all use when it comes to elections of any kind. And it’s not just American, it’s also the best form of selecting leaders available; it allows for the voice of the people to be heard in a way that makes the playing field level. Its only bias is the bias of the people, which is the bias that matters most in a government for the people and by the people.” Advocates for election claimed that having appointment would create a situation where a group of individuals would be capable of selecting people with similar mindsets for the available positions, resulting in corruption that could eventually end the Institute. The question was raised, “What if the president of the United States was capable of appointing his successor?” This would harm the very foundations of our government and undermine the ability for the people to participate in government.

Those in favor of appointment took a slightly different view. Though they agreed democracy is a pillar of this country, they argued that it isn’t absolutely essential to the Institute. One person even joked, “The Honors Institute isn’t the United States government, and we’re pretty sure that all of our members are glad that is the case.” The Honors Institute doesn’t control a military or have an extreme effect on its member’s lives. The new system of appointment wouldn’t lead to corruption, there is a school-appointed, supervising director who wouldn’t allow such nonsense. The Honors Institute is a business. It was created to “sell” an enriching experience to the students with the credentials and commitment to “afford” it. Questions of democracy don’t apply when it comes to an organization of college students. After all, the Institute has a fairly decent record of making sure that the individual most capable (or in some cases, most willing) of utilizing a position typically ends up where he or she belongs.

Those supporting appointment pointed out elections weren’t much of an election when only one person runs for each position. One person mentioned, “we feel that the only reason that people don’t run is because of lack of confidence. If appointment was the process, then at least whoever was appointed would be able to have a vote of confidence from the individual who appoints them.”

Those in favor of election admitted that this was a good point, but that the support of peers, rather than a distant Executive Team, may also be a good vote of confidence. Furthermore, “If the officials are appointed, then the members of the Honors Institute will feel isolated from them in the same way that an individual working at McDonalds feels no connection to the executive team of McDonalds Corporation. We also don’t want the Honors Program to distribute its benefits in the same way as McDonalds where the executives make millions, and the workers make a pittance.” The advocators for appointment stated in response, “One thing to keep in mind is McDonalds benefits from bringing in investors, whereas we benefit when our members are successful and leave others with a good impression of the Honors Institute.”

Those supporting election went on to say how appointment hurts the chances of the little guy who wants to take a shot at gaining a position. If appointment is the process through which one attains an office, then the unnoticed individual who wants to take a shot at it won’t have a chance. However, those in favor of appointment countered by saying that elections often boil down to a popularity contest anyway, which isn’t exactly a friendly environment for the little guy. At least with appointment the little guy would have individuals vouching for him and giving him credibility. Ideally, being appointed comes from showing oneself to be capable of fulfilling the position in question, which means that those placed in power would be the most qualified and capable.

There were powerful points for both cases, and then there were a few statements made not for either side, but by individuals trying to keep things in perspective. These points are something we all should keep in mind during the up-coming transition period. First, the Honors Institute is not motivated by personal profit, because there is no such thing in the Honors Institute. Profit in the Honors Institute comes in the form of its members’ successes, because when one member succeeds, it looks good on the rest of the Institute as a whole. Furthermore, cooperation is a necessity in the Honors Institute. It is a small organization, but this just means that each member has to cooperate with the other; it is important that each member “play nice,” because if they don’t, the Institute will not be able to operate at full efficiency.

The constitution is still up for debate, as a member of the Honors Institute I plan to stay informed of this matter and I will do my best to keep you all as up to date as possible. For now, it looks as if what needed to be said about the new constitution has been said. To get more involved in the Honors Institute one should contact one of the committee leaders. Also, be sure to participate in the vote of confidence on appointment vs. election on Canvas from October 7th-11th. There will be a general meeting on the 14th to review the results of the vote.

Election or Appointment? That is the question.

Welcome back to all of our returning members and welcome to all our new ones!

As always, the Executive Team is working hard on improvements to bring more benefits to you. There are several new initiatives, like expanded community service involvement and the Research and Internship Programs, that we’ll be launching soon.

The big news is that we are proposing a new Constitution. This Constitution transforms the old organizational structure of President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Class Representatives to an industry-inspired one with a President, Vice President of Membership, Vice President of Operations, Vice President of Programs & Services, and Vice President of Communications. We believe that this new organizational structure would streamline processes and allow important work to get done faster and more efficiently.

When we talked to you at the first general meeting of the year, we saw that the major sticking point is how we propose officer positions will be filled. Currently, officers are elected all at once at the end of the year. The new Constitution proposes that the Director appoints the President and four Vice Presidents. The main reason the Executive Team proposed appointment instead of election is the lack of competition in general elections over the last few years. Our thinking was that we could reduce the burden on you members by only requiring you to vote on your class representative. We had also hoped to create multiple levels of leadership in which members could enter as a class representative, become known for their passion, dedication, and skill, then move up to an Executive Team role, much like promotion in industry.

As we realized at the last general meeting, there’s a lot more discussion to be had on this issue. A Neil Armstrong class member, Ben Southgate, took the time after the meeting to summarize the arguments made there, which you can find below. Please take some time to read through them and give us your opinions. You can comment below or email with any comments or suggestions you have.

We will hold a meeting next Thursday, September 19th at 7pm to discuss the proposed Constitution and listen to your opinions. We hope to see you there!

Honors Institute of 2013, we are faced with a decision. Should we change from the typical scenario of electing our officials to an appointment process? Is an appointment process more effective than an election? Personally, I’m excited for this opportunity, it’s why I joined the program, to have an opportunity to influence an organization along with some of the greatest minds on campus. I feel that together we can make the best decision and the best Honors Institute that has been seen in years. That being said, lets explore what was said in the general meeting on Wednesday, and I want to establish that if you didn’t express an opinion there, that is why it isn’t represented in my paper. However, there is no time like the present, so form your own opinion, make it unique and creative, and don’t sell it short because it is your opinion and it should be heard.

The plan established by last year’s Executive team was to create a system of appointment where an individual is appointed to a position by either a committee or an advisor. An opinion against this on Wednesday was that if appointments are made, then it could lead to favoritism which could result in an oligarchy (a system of government where power is concentrated in a small group or in one individual, a dictatorship is a good example). From there corruption could easily spread amongst those individuals with the power. A counter argument was submitted that the Honors Institute is too small of an organization for any leaders to escape accountability for corruption. Another idea was that only the President and Vice President should be elected, as then the individuals with the most power could be reelected if need be and the organization wouldn’t have to deal with the hassle of electing all the individuals who would assist the President and Vice Presidents, but the whole problem that lead to appointment was that the higher up individuals would run uncontested and therefore the elections would be insignificant anyway. Whereas if they were appointed then there would be a possibility of someone new, even when an individual doesn’t want to conflict with the prominent person who previously held whichever position is up for election.

While some individuals cut a hard line and said, either we elect or we appoint, there were a few individuals willing to compromise. An idea submitted by one such individual was to set a term limit to inhibit someone’s ability to accumulate too much power. Or it was also mentioned that it may be a good idea to elect the President, who could then appoint his VPs, who then select the members of their particular group. This way, the most powerful individual would still be chosen by the voices of the students in the Honors Institute, rather than by a committee or an individual. A third orchestrator of compromise suggested that the election and appointment processes be mixed, and we could have multiple individuals be appointed to a specific position and then we could vote from there.

These are just a few options to consider, I encourage you all to collaborate amongst yourselves and if you have an alternative, by all means, suggest it. The Honors Institute was created to give us unique opportunities like the one that is before us. Take advantage of it, make this year’s Honors unique and profound for the sake of each member and for yourselves. Carpe annun and best wishes to you all.

Sincerely, Ben Southgate

To End a Semester

Finals are here. Well, they are almost here. This will be the last blog post for the semester. With it, I’d like to talk to you all about the end of the year and the loose ends that will be tied up as the time runs out on the school year.

As the Clock Strikes its Final Hour

For those who do not know yet, the study break details of when and where have been confirmed and set. They were released in a recent e-mail. Located in the M&M U115 room, the study break event will be from 8PM to 10PM on this next Saturday. As noted in the last blog, it will have food and be showing the movie, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.

To go more into the various things to be concerned about to end this year, I’d like to mention the continuing Scholarship Raffle. This raffle will offer up a prize of a full semester’s tuition (to be more specific, it is undergraduate tuition for a semester) to the winner. It will be continuing on through the summer and into the Fall semester as well.

The last thing I want to talk briefly about today is the various initiatives going into next semester for the institute. It seems that general meetings will be overhauled to include a lot more in each, with more of them each semester. Several larger events are potentially being developed out of this like a potential induction banquet. Though, I’ve said this before, but many future initiatives like this are still works in progress and should be treated as such.


In the end, much of what I speak of is really just a method of dragging out the end of the blog for this year. I can’t say it is any different than that. The school year is ending as well as much of what the institute is doing. Things are winding down, for the institute and for most people on campus. With that in mind, I look to say goodbye for the time being. No matter what lies in its wake for you, I wish you all a great summer.

Have a great day, everyone.