As a Smith College nominee, Katie McGarry, ’21, was recognized with two prestigious awards this spring. She was one of 62 college juniors across the United States awarded the Truman Scholarship and one of 290 community-minded students awarded a Newman Civic Fellowship. The Truman Scholarship provides up to $30,000 in funding for graduate studies. Katie plans to use her scholarship for law school. As a Newman Civic Fellow, Katie will be an active participant in a learning and professional development network next academic year. Read more about Katie and her plans here.
We asked Katie a few questions about her fellowships application process.
What motivated you to apply for this/these awards?
My decision to come to Smith was in no small part due to its long and storied commitment to public service and social justice. Smith has afforded me many opportunities to pursue these passions, both of which fit well with the Truman and Newman fellowships.
What did you learn from the application process?
I felt I was a good fit for the Truman because I had come to Smith with fairly fleshed out answers to their application questions. From a personal development perspective, it was really helpful to know that even if what I do isn’t *perfect* (I found a typo in my final application after it was submitted!), I am still capable of accomplishing a lot and worthy of an award. To paraphrase Voltaire: perfection is the enemy of the good!
What did your applications help you achieve? Or, how did it better prepare you to realize more fundamental life/career goals?
Winning the Truman will open many doors for me–most importantly, it will connect me with a community of fellow do-gooders committed to public service and the common good. Tapping into that will be incredibly important and necessary for any kind of paradigm-shifting work!
What advice do you have for future applicants?
Devotion to a career in public service is paramount. As long as you know in your heart that you want to improve others’ lives, you don’t need to sweat the particulars! (Also, I would love to talk to anyone interested in applying!)
Who supported you in the application process either through writing recommendations, advising you, or evaluating your work?
I want to single out three of my professors who have been incredibly supportive and influential: Alice Hearst, my major adviser and mentor; Loretta Ross, my teacher for a course that was transformative for me; and Erin Pineda, another teacher of a course that has shaped my thinking about public service. President McCartney has informally been a mentor and created opportunities, like the Innovation Challenge, that have helped me to try to help others. Marge Litchford, Assistant Dean of Students, has advised me on projects since I first started at Smith and has always pushed me to dream bigger and work harder. This list would not be complete without mentioning the Fellowships Program. Margaret Lamb really went above and beyond in advising and mentoring me throughout this process. Stacie Hagenbaugh was such a joy to work with and I am so grateful for the confidence she gave me from start to finish during the interview prep she coordinated.