Thomas is a Ph.D. student and a teacher with the Department of English who has been awarded the William M. Suttles Endowed Scholarship.
How did you find out about this scholarship?
I went directly to the Scholarship Office for guidance. I found this scholarship via the GSU scholarship website’s search filter. From there, I became interested and decided to apply.
What motivated you to want to apply for scholarships?
I’m originally from Germany, and I came to Atlanta to complete my dual degree. Although I was stable as a teaching assistant, I wanted to seek out further possible opportunities via the Scholarship Resource Center. As an international student, it is quite difficult to finance school beyond the graduate level. So it is wonderful that GSU offers these external scholarships for students of all backgrounds so that they can focus on the curriculum rather than worry too much about cost.
How was the writing process?
Drafting the essay was actually the easiest part. I knew that I wanted to make it personal because of my unique story of being a transfer student from Germany. My experiences here at Georgia State throughout that first year gave me a lot of material to work with.
What did you write about in your essay?
I told a story basically. I wrote about the moment when it became clear what I wanted to do for my career. This moment occurred on Election Day of 2004 while I was attending school in Ohio. This day was particularly and rainy and unexpectedly chilly. Most citizens of that tiny town where I studied hadn’t prepared themselves for that. But still, they waited in line to cast their vote. On that day, I helped to organize umbrellas, blankets, and to serve soup to make their time of waiting bearable. As an international student, of course, I did not qualify to vote. But being involved in that whole process helped me find purpose and it gave me the incentive to focus my studies on the American political system.
What do you plan to do after graduation?
I’m looking for employment opportunities at a university to continue my academic career. I am hoping to obtain tenure.
What is it that you like to do?
I like being a teacher. That’s my hobby. Before 2004, I really didn’t know what to do with my career. Deciding on a path as soon as possible is crucial in order to succeed with a degree in the long run.
That said, students should not view the college experience as "sitting in class and earning a grade." They should use this time also to experience new things, participate, socialize, and explore. I wouldn’t have found my purpose if I had stayed at home during that chilly day in November of 2004 and watched the election on TV. As teacher, I try to get my students out to experience new things. It’s important to keep an open mind.
But when I do have time, which doesn’t happen so often, I sometimes find myself trailing away with music production in a little recording studio that I’ve set up.
Do you have any advice for others who also wish to apply for scholarships?
Apply without hesitation. Do not be afraid. There are enough resources and support at the Scholarship Resource Center. Students should make use of what is available.
When it comes to writing the essay, allow yourself to be personal and put that motivation of pleasing others aside. Express what you are proud of, what you have accomplished in the past, what you want to accomplish in the future, or even where you failed to illustrate what you learned from that experience.