Skip to main content
Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI students reeling in big scholarships

Media Contact:

KINGSTON, R.I. -- June 2, 2004 -- University of Rhode Island students are casting their academic nets wide to capture prestigious scholarships, previously the privy of Ivy Leaguers. Not many of those coveted scholarships are getting away, thanks to URIís Office of National Scholarships.

The office opened it doors in 1996 under the auspices of the Honors Program and at the urging of Cheryl Foster, a professor of philosophy, who directs its activities.

Foster acts like a seasoned shipís captain, keeping an eye out for exceptionally talented students to guide them through the often grueling application process for these major scholarships. She works with a number of dedicated faculty and staff who volunteer to sit on selection committees, mentor applicants, and provide mock interviews for finalists.

The effort continues to pay off. Take this spring, for example. Gregory Hughes, a computer science major, made University history by becoming URIís first Gates Scholar, selected as one of only 31 students in the nation. Hughes will begin his doctorate at Cambridge University in England this fall, without having to worry about the cost of his education since the scholarship picks up the entire tab.

Another URI student, Logan Connors, a French and history double major, became the Universityís first student to win the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies.

Brendan Franzoni, a history and political science double major, isnít the first student to win the prestigious Truman Scholarship. Heís the third URI student in the past four years to wow the judges and beat the competition.

Two students, Meghan Bellows and Chris Piecuch, each won a Goldwater Scholarship. And Robert Hanson, a political science major and editor of the student newspaper, The Good 5 Ę Cigar, won the Boren Scholarship.

Since the scholarship office opened, 37 URI students have won major awards in a wide range of programs, including the Rhodes, Truman, Marshall, Mellon, Udall, Goldwater, Madison, Boren, and Fulbright competitions. And an additional 29 students were finalists. More than half of the students URI nominated for national scholarships made it to the final round or won.

Foster measures success not by the number of scholarships won, but by the number of students applying for nominations. "We believe participation in the process is an important academic opportunity for its own sake, allowing students the opportunity to define and articulate their goals. Many students who do not advance beyond the URI nomination are able to recycle their applications into successful graduate school applications, most of which come with fellowships," says Foster, a former Truman Scholar.