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Newly revised grant program to boost applications

BY LILY ABROMEIT | SEPTEMBER 17, 2013 5:00 AM

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In an effort to help graduate and professional students become more successful in reaching their goals, student leaders are revamping an existing grant program.

Over the past four years, the Executive Council of Graduate and Professional students has offered various programs to provide graduate and professional students with money to fund their research, attend conferences, and conduct service projects.

But the process to receive these grants was too complicated, Executive Council President Ben Gillig said, and thus was not drawing a sufficient number of applicants.

“It used to be called the Professional Advancement Grants and there were four different types of them, and they each had their own application process and their own evaluation process,” Gillig said. “… It was very confusing for our students, which led to fewer people applying.”

Gillig and the rest of Executive Council have formed a new grant program that they say will make it “bigger and better.”

The new process, which will allot nearly $100,000 over the course of the academic year, follows the basic procedures of the old one.

Gillig said students should fill out applications outlining their plans.

To eliminate some of the confusion and time commitment, Executive Council has streamlined the separate submissions into one concise application — something that UI Ph.D. student Kira Pasquesi said will attract her to apply.

“It can be extremely time-consuming to apply for conference funds from the various sources across campus,” Pasquesi wrote in an email. “The new streamlined application will make the process easier and allow for additional opportunities to apply in a simplified online application system.”

Pasquesi has experience receiving grants from Executive Council — she used one last year to fund a trip to a conference that has resulted in numerous publications for her.

“It helped me to further relationships with professional colleagues as well as spark new ideas for research and teaching for the future,” Pasquesi said. “… It’s just the type of thing that’s so integral to our graduate experience.”

Although nearly 80 students applied, Gillig said, he couldn’t be certain of the number of them who will receive grants, following the review process.

Despite the unknown amount of help that this program will provide monetarily, Gillig said, he is sure it will benefit not only graduate and professional students but also the UI as a whole.

“In general, it will benefit the University of Iowa because it will enhance the professional development of our students,” Gillig said. “… by making this funding available to graduate and professional students, it’s not just the person who receives the grant that benefits, it’s the people who work around them who benefit, too.”

This is an advantage that UI College of Pharmacy student Brianne Bakken said she will count on as well.

“Being involved in extracurricular activities, professional organizations, and attending conferences is a great way to become involved with other students and also a great way to become engaged in your profession,” she wrote in an email.

Bakken, who will apply for a grant, said she thinks it will benefit retention numbers at the UI.

“I think students that are more active and engaged will be more confident and knowledgeable about their profession and their personal skills,” she said. “In return, these students could have better job placement, which is beneficial for both students and for the university’s statistics.”


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