Early spring is the time of year on the hill when hopeful student grant and fellowship candidates begin to hear back from organizations on the status of their applications. For a lot of students, reception of a prestigious award can be the highest honor and a dream come true. It can mean the chance to conduct independent research at a foreign university, teach English in a developing nation, or implement a self-designed project in the name of global peace and sustainability.
Each year, a handful of students are recognized with life-changing grants, fellowships, and awards. And in March and April, while the campus congratulates the lucky students whose achievements are featured publicly on the Hamilton newsfeed, Ginny Dosch, who could claim significant credit for students’ application-writing success if she weren’t so modest, celebrates quietly in her office on the third floor of Bristol Center.
“I really just feel happy for the students,” she explains, about hearing the good news.
Dosch is Hamilton’s Student Fellowships coordinator, and works under the Dean of Faculty in the Career Center offices. Her basic responsibility is to encourage students to apply for extra-Hamilton opportunities, but her day-to-day “to do” list can include hosting information sessions, critiquing applications, corresponding with national organizations, and meeting with individual students and faculty.
“The goal,” she says, “is not to make anyone apply for anything. The main thing is that students are aware of fellowship and grant opportunities that align with their interests, and that they have the resources they need to pursue them if they decide to,” said Dosch. “I really am here to make sure these things show up on students’ radar.”
Awareness being the biggest part of the battle, Dosch spends a large portion of her time organizing open-invitation presentations for underclassmen to learn what kinds of things are available for them in the future. She likes to start meeting with students as early as sophomore year, and especially junior year, so that by the time they are seniors, they already know what’s out there and for which opportunities they want to focus their energy.
While ultimately the students are the ones in the spotlight, Dosch likes to think of her job as being “student-centered and faculty supported.” She is committed to exploring all possible avenues in seeking out interested students to whom nontraditional opportunities might appeal, and this includes relying on faculty members to steer outstanding students toward her.
There are certainly months during the academic year for Dosch that are busier than others, but even the relatively light months are not slow. Fall is the time when she is busiest actually helping seniors put together applications for Watson, Bristol, Fulbright and Goldwater grants, but there are smaller-scale grant and fellowship deadlines to keep track of all year.
Dosch has held her position at Hamilton since 1999, when she came here from a similar office at Colgate University. She loves the kind of work that she does because it affords her the opportunity to speak to and build personal relationships with enthusiastic and engaged students. “The things that make most happy,” she explains, “are the connections I am able to make and maintain with students.”
For a woman who spends the entire year publicizing opportunities and helping students negotiate various application processes, affirmation of a job well done often comes in the form of an acceptance letter addressed to a student she has helped.
But Dosch is careful not to measure success qualitatively in terms of numbers of grant or fellowship recipients, even though success measured in this way would be off the charts—70 Fulbright Grants, 16 Goldwater Scholarships, 23 Watson Fellowships, and a host of other awards have been bestowed upon Hamilton students with her help. There is simply no telling, year to year, how a national applicant pool will behave. What’s important to her is that students graduate feeling like they knew what was available for them and felt comfortable and supported in pursuing opportunities.