200 Days in the Life of the College

Wednesday, March 9

There’s more behind a fellowship than good fortune

By Julia Wilber ’11

Gnothi Seauton, translated from the Greek as “Know Thyself,” is a phrase familiar to Hamiltonians from the College seal. The experience on College Hill is designed to advance a student’s exploration of our motto, but there are a select few on campus whose professional purpose is to encourage students to unravel its meaning.

Enter Virginia Dosch, student fellowships coordinator. Ginny, as she is better known, coordinates the logistics of applications as a liaison to grant and fellowship organizations and acts as the resident expert on the nuances of each award. To the students she works with, she is also a patient guide and mentor. Her own study-abroad experience compels Dosch to help students find ways to travel and “expand the world as they know it.”

In addition to the specific requirements for each application, all grants have an important personal statement. “It is the common thread to almost any application,” Dosch says. This is where “know thyself” comes in. In a world where self-reflection is a rare skill, she shrewdly teaches students how to look inward and use it in their applications. They are then able to speak about and write their story with clarity, honesty and passion. “I completely rely on the student to take me where we’re going to go,” Dosch says. “My job is about watching young individuals follow the things that matter to them most.”

Working with applicants to match their greatest aspirations with the right opportunity is rewarding for her, but also for Hamilton, whose students again this year will reap a remarkable number of awards. But in speaking about what her work entails, Dosch talks mostly about her students. “You just don’t know where the process leads,” she says with a knowing smile. You can tell she loves her front-row seat.