Applications for the 2019 Wesleyan Summer Grants opened Jan. 28 and will remain open until midnight on Thursday, Feb. 28. The grants will provide funding for students to pursue summer opportunities that would otherwise not be funded or would have insufficient funds to meet a student’s needs.
As the grants’ page explains, Wesleyan Summer Grants are awarded through the Gordon Career Center and are funded by both individual donors and University organizations. Grants can be applicable to a variety of programs—including internships, volunteer work, research, and language study—allowing students to pursue opportunities that are either low- or no-pay. Awards generally total between $4,000 and $5,000. Each grant has specific requirements and eligibility, and some grants are linked to specific internships.
“I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it ended up being an awesome internship and I really enjoyed it,” said Camilla Lopez ’19, who was awarded a grant from the University last summer.
According to Associate Director of Internships and Campus Recruiting Sarah MacNamara, of the 300 students who applied for Wesleyan Summer Grants in 2018, 145 received funding for various summer positions. She also noted that the program has existed in some form since the 1980s.
“The program has grown in recent years with more student interest and different experiential summer learning opportunities,” MacNamara explained in an email to The Argus. “A committee comprised of Wesleyan staff and faculty review all applications and make funding decisions. The career center’s role is to advise students and administer the application process.”
Although the program initially existed as a challenge grant in which students were awarded money upon completion of their internship, students are now provided their particular amount of awarded money at the beginning of the summer, which Lopez noted was a positive aspect of the program as it allowed her to budget her own funds.
Opportunities funded by grants can take on a diverse range of forms. Lopez had a low-paying internship for a documentary series produced through PBS called POV, working with the Community Engagement and Education departments. As a government major and film minor, her internship combined both of these interests.
“I’m from San Antonio, Texas, and there’s not much in the film industry or huge resources in the city, so I was thinking New York,” she recalled.
The grants program prioritizes low-income students, as well as rising juniors and seniors, who might benefit the most from the extra funds. Lopez noted that because she is low-income, the grant she received was pivotal for her being able to intern over the summer.
“Being low-income, first-gen, I used a lot of that background in my essays,” she explained. “This is a resource that I can take advantage of and it would broaden my horizons to get an internship, especially in New York or big cities because they’re so inaccessible because [positions] are low-paid, or unpaid entirely, and if you don’t live there, it’s so hard to do that.”
Quinn O’Leary ’19 also applied for, and received, a summer grant funding her study of Spanish in Argentina, in the summer after her sophomore year. O’Leary noted that to her knowledge grants typically do not fund summer language study opportunities; however, Spanish was integral to O’Leary’s future career, which she emphasized in her application.
“I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, [but] I knew I was going to be working with people in some healthcare capacity,” O’Leary explained. “Now that I speak Spanish, I’m able to work as a Doula for the Wesleyan Doula Project, and I’m able to speak Spanish with patients at the abortion clinics throughout Hartford, and that’s really useful, because sometimes I’m the only person who can speak Spanish.”
O’Leary emphasized the necessity of having received this grant in order for her to go to Argentina. She explained that as a low-income student, she found that receiving a grant was especially important for her, and she emphasized that she’d recommend other low-income Wesleyan students take advantage of summer grant options.
“I would not have been able to go without the grant,” she said. “I think that funding is really important for Wesleyan students and really adds to experiences that we have at Wesleyan.”
To apply, students must submit a résumé approved by the Gordon Career Center, an application form, a budget form, writing statements, and an essay. Each student must explain their position for the upcoming summer as part of the statements. Students are typically applying for a grant before securing an internship, which creates the possibility that students have secured funding for an internship they do not obtain. This gap is accounted for by the Wesleyan Summer Grant system, so that if a student is awarded a grant and ends up not securing the internship, the student can still use the grant to apply to a different internship. A student can submit a revision form indicating why the funds are still necessary for the alternate position.
“We hope that the Wesleyan Summer Grants Program gives students the opportunity for career exploration and allows them to have real world experiences that will impact both their Wesleyan and post-Wesleyan careers,” MacNamara noted.
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