The 2019 National Association of Fellowships Advisors (NAFA) Biennial Conference took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota from July 23 – 26, 2019. The mission of NAFA is to serve higher education administrators and faculty who assist college-level students with applications for an array of nationally competitive, merit-based scholarships. The theme for this year’s conference was “The Process Continues” which refers to the nature of our work as we are continuously learning as professionals.
Heidi Manley, Chief of USA Study Abroad at the U.S. Department of State, and Caroline Pette, Program Manager for the Gilman International Scholarship Program, moderated a panel titled “Mobilizing Scholarship Program Alumni in Outreach and Recruitment.” The panel featured three panelists: Alice Michelle Augustine (CUNY Lehman College), Jennifer Rosti (Roanoke College), and Tamara Sine (Gilman Alumni Ambassador 2016-2017). Panelists discussed concrete steps they have taken on their respective campuses to leverage alumni for recruitment and promotion of nationally competitive scholarships. Session attendees also discussed best practices for strengthening scholarship alumni communities and engaging those communities after students have graduated.
L-R: Heidi Manley (U.S. Department of State, Tamara Sine, Jennifer Rosti, Michelle Augustine, and Caroline Pette (IIE Houston, Gilman Program).
Heidi Manley and Caroline Pette also facilitated both new advisor and veteran advisor roundtable discussions at the NAFA conference. New advisors were able to grasp a strong foundation of the Gilman Scholarship Program including topics such as eligibility and application process details. Veteran advisors were able to discuss program updates, the review, and selection process, as well as ask questions about their campuses and students.
Caroline Pette represented the Gilman Scholarship Program at both the Foundations and International Study Networking and Dessert fair and the poster presentation session. The two events gave advisors numerous opportunities to connect with the Gilman Program and received beneficial information to bring back to their campuses. In addition to learning the fundamentals of the Gilman Scholarship application process, advisors were also to take advantage of face to face opportunities with a Gilman staff member to discuss any challenges or setbacks they have experienced on their campus and receive feedback and resources to utilize in the future.
Caroline Pette at NAFA poster lunch session.
The conference concluded with fireside chats in which each foundation briefly discussed upcoming changes and addressed common questions or issues that have been raised within the advisor community. Heidi Manley announced the Gilman-McCain scholarship and addressed the eligibility criteria for the upcoming application cycle. Heidi also informed the advisor community that the Gilman Scholarship Program received its largest budget in program history, and there will be an additional 600-700 awards distributed throughout the next academic year. Caroline Pette discussed in detail the program’s application and selection process as well as answered frequently asked questions regarding Follow-on Service Projects.
L-R: Cindy Schaarschmidt, Heidi Manley, and Caroline Pette.
Overall, the conference presented an excellent opportunity for the Gilman Scholarship Program to engage with its entire advisor community and present several upcoming announcements for the new application cycle. The Gilman Program received fantastic feedback from numerous advisors throughout the conference and will continue to work with campus advisors nationwide to help accomplish the mission of the Gilman Scholarship Program.