GRFP Essay Insights: Application Resources for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
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Melonie Williams

Melonie Williams, '09 Fellow
Cognitive Psychology
Vanderbilt University

What does being funded by the NSF GRFP mean to you?

It means that my hard work actually paid off. The NSF GRFP is one of the most prestigious fellowships that can be awarded to a graduate student. Having this award on your record shows that you are capable of thinking beyond the average student and are able to do great research. As such, it opens many doors down the road.

What has been the greatest advantage of winning the award?

The greatest advantage is that I've had the freedom and flexibility to pursue my own research interests. Having my own funding, means that I am not relying on my adviser or an external grant for my stipend, and as a result, I am not required to do research that I am not interested in.

What advice would you give to a student who is not sure
about applying?

Apply anyway. Even if you don't get the award, the experience of applying is incredibly beneficial. You get the chance to see what it's like to apply for an actual grant.

Learning to write about yourself and your research is not always an easy skill to develop, so try to get as much practice as possible.

What's also great about the NSF, is that even if you don't win, the judges give you feedback. That's immensely helpful if you plan to apply again next year or apply for a similar grant.

 

Where is she now?

Dr. Melonie Williams Sexton is an academic adviser and lecturer in psychology at Vanderbilt University. She is the first McNair Scholar from the University of Central Florida to earn a Phd. LinkedIn profile

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Advice from Fellows

Winning the award has given me time to focus heavily on research and to create a good roadmap for my dissertation topic and methods.

Elise Hernandez

'12 Fellow, Developmental Psychology

University of Michigan

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