Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

2020 Senior Spotlight

As one way of celebrating this year’s graduating class, we asked our very own Victoria Tyron, OMSFA Student Associate and Class of 2020 grad, for a Q&A to reflect on her time at UW and what she’s come to understand about scholarships. Thank you Victoria for sharing these insights!

Victoria Tyron

Class of 2020, International Studies & Communication majors

My name is Victoria Tyron. I am a soon to be 22 year old graduate of the University of Washington from Lynnwood WA, although I immigrated to the U.S. 14 years ago. It’s always interesting whenever I get the chance to reflect on what my undergrad years have entailed, particularly because I never thought they’d happen with me as a Husky. Although I was very set on California my senior year of high school, I had a series of great and fortunate events that led me to UW and it has been quite the time.

Q. What experiences have been most meaningful to you during your undergrad years?
A. I can’t ever really pinpoint any one experience that has made my time at UW meaningful, but I have to say that in everything I allowed myself to engage with I was always given the opportunity to just explore, such as my study abroad to Lyon, France. My first on campus job at the UW Visitors’ Center taught me very quickly that UW itself was a city within a city and I was given ample encouragement and resources to explore many of its corners to see what it had to offer.

If I had to choose I would say what made my undergrad years meaningful was the constant exchange of knowledge and ideas, especially beyond the classroom. Most of the time I was able to realize what myself and my fellow Huskies were capable of because of the conversations and partnerships that would occur when lectures were over. One example that will always come to mind is AfricaNow. Now a nonprofit, AfricaNow started from a conversation between two friends from Guinea and Nigeria who believed that rather than complaining about the issues facing the African people across world, young Africans needed to leverage their educations, resources, skills and tools now rather than in the future to effectively impact the African continent and diaspora. A few years later, AfricaNow is currently about to host its third annual conference geared towards achieving this mission. For me these moments and several others that I got to be a part of were very affirming and did a lot to boost my confidence as a student and an individual.

Q. What experiences have helped you to develop your professional interests/goals?
A. As for my professional and career goals I would reiterate that the exchanges between my colleagues and other members of the UW community had a significant influence in the direction I see myself in post grad, which is a human operation/community engagement role within the nonprofit sector. UW is one of those schools where students are constantly encouraged to explore the possibilities of the “real world” whilst learning about the applicable tools and skills needed. One such course was my Public Relations communication course during fall quarter of my senior year. With scheduled visits to different organizations and entities, all the students had the chance to see just how the hard and soft skills of the public relations profession in all areas were applied on a daily basis.

Q. As you’ve learned about scholarships through applying and working with OMSFA, what has surprised you about scholarships or the scholarship application process?
A. Naturally, there will be areas during college that, in order to explore, would require financial backing and that was when I began to seriously start my scholarship search. Starting college I was fortunate to be one of those students who were fully funded and so I had not done much in the way of searching for scholarships. However, I knew that studying abroad was going to be something that I would take advantage of whilst in college and a summer abroad in France does not come cheap.

One of the things that surprised me the most about scholarships in general were departmental scholarships. I was always aware of what some may call “big ticket” scholarships, such as ones for research or those from outside sources, but it was shocking to hear from my professors that you could be eligible for a number of scholarships just by being a part of programs from that department. This made me think: well, if I’m eligible for funding just because I’m an international studies major then who else is giving money away for the topics I’m interested in? This all seems obvious now because people get funding for specific programs and areas of study all the time, but it had never clicked for me until it was time to study abroad.

Q. What are your tips for other students thinking about and searching for scholarships?
A. After my time applying for scholarships and having worked at the Office of Merit Scholarships for a while now I would say that my main takeaway for applying for scholarships is: don’t count yourself out. This is because even after I had found out that there were specific funding opportunities exclusively for students within my program I still convinced myself that the funding would only be awarded to students doing amazing and worthwhile research. That no one would care about my desire to study abroad enough to fund it, which was simply not true. Unfortunately as a student and as an employee of OMSFA I have come across a lot of students with similar thoughts and now I’m always swooping in ready to reassure that this is simply not the case.

Additionally, I would say: give yourself the time needed to find the scholarships. They will unfortunately not fall in your lap and sometimes the time needed to thoroughly search and find ones that apply to you can be a concession that not many “busy” college students are willing to make. If you need the funding to enhance yourself as a student and an individual then dedicate that time to properly search.

Leave no stone left unturned. Reach out to every department and entity on and off campus and see where you land.

I would also say that once you do find a scholarship, don’t let whatever the required process is intimidate you. What you’re trying to accomplish is going to be worth supporting and funding for someone and they will come through for you. You just have to stay authentic and sincere in your reasons. This was a lesson that I had to learn many times over and I can still say it’s a lesson I’m learning.

Despite all the uncertainty, experiences like these have made me even more excited to to grow and learn, not only of the world, but also of what I’m capable of too. UW has done an amazing job laying a large part of the foundation of who I am and I’m truly excited to see how the rest of me takes shape after undergrad.