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Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research: Connecting Students to Research Opportunities

Kelia Franks, ESIA ‘14

By any measure, Kelia Franks, ESIA ‘14, is an example of the hard work, academic curiosity, and outstanding potential of GW students. Not content to just read the works of others, Kelia got involved with research early in her college career with the help of the Center for Undergraduate Fellowships and Research (CUFR). 

“CUFR was by far one of the best resources I had at GW,” says Kelia. “Having CUFR support me every step of the way as I was applying for fellowships and grants meant the world to me.” 

Kelia first encountered CUFR in her sophomore year through a workshop on writing personal statements. She used the skills she learned in applying to fellowships and was awarded her first through CUFR’s Shapiro Public Service Award. From that first success, Kelia continued to apply for new opportunities, receiving numerous fellowships. 

“I ended up getting offered almost every fellowship that I applied for because of Paul’s help,” she says of her work with Dr. Paul Hoyt-O’Connor, director of CUFR. “I chose to do the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program in Malaysia after graduation.”

While in Malaysia, she continued to work with Dr. Hoyt-O’Connor, preparing applications for the Rhodes and Marshall programs. Despite being miles away, Dr. Hoyt-O’Connor provided Kelia with “extensive advice on the application process” and feedback on “numerous, numerous drafts.”

“He’s been one of the greatest and most supportive mentors I’ve ever had,” Kelia says, “because he poured his heart and soul into his work and helping me succeed.”

The admiration is mutual. “She is an example of GW students at their best,” Dr. Hoyt-O’Connor replies.

Kelia’s tremendous success is just one example of the importance of a dedicated resource center to assist students in applying for research and fellowship opportunities. CUFR helps students turn classroom learning into reallife experience.

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