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Office of National and International Awards

“The office of the scholar is to cheer, to raise, and to guide . . .” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

ONIA students

The first ONIA Fellowships Class, Spring 2017

Our Mission:

Western Carolina University’s Office of National and International Awards (ONIA) coordinates the institution’s support of students who wish to apply for competitive national and international awards, such as the Fulbright, Marshall, Truman, or Rhodes.

What are National and International Awards?

Awards programs provide significant financial assistance for high-achieving undergraduates and recent graduates who plan to further graduate study, continue research, or study/teach abroad.  The private or government organizations that fund awards seek to assist future careers for students who have demonstrated excellence in undergraduate/graduate research, service learning, and significant leadership.  These programs mean more than money—securing prestigious awards opens doors to top-ranked graduate schools and exciting careers.

How Does ONIA Help?

Our office strives to:

  • Facilitate the most appropriate mentoring for students who seek national and international awards.
  • Marshal the relevant resources of the university--its faculty, staff, academic departments, and centers—to enhance the student’s successful application for awards.
  • Create communities of support among students, faculty, and external constituents to encourage members of these communities to engage in or advance the competitive awards process at WCU.
  • Communicate information regarding the competitive awards process to students, staff, faculty, and appropriate external constituents to raise awareness of and engagement in the competitive awards process at WCU.

What Makes a Great Candidate for a National or International Award?

Although applicant qualifications vary by award program (see the Awards List), successful candidates have the following characteristics:

  1. Excellent academic profile (cumulative university GPA of 3.5 or above).
  2. Excellent writing and oral (presentation) skills.
  3. Demonstrated passion for a chosen major, project, or career.
  4. Significant undergraduate research.
  5. Significant service learning background.
  6. Significant leadership experience.
  7. Some experience studying abroad.

ONIA students


Keep in mind that awards programs are designed to help students achieve their dreams; therefore, big dreams are important.  You want to change major policy in the USA?  You want to be part of the community of scientists who avert global environmental disaster?  You want to become a world-renowned engineer?  You want to study literature with the best minds in the world?  There is an awards program for you!

Note, too, that successful candidates start working on their dreams from the first semester at WCU; so, start working as soon as possible. 

The important resources listed below welcome all students, including freshmenGet started now.

Important WCU resources:

How do you start undergraduate research at WCU?

  1. Tell your advisor or favorite professor that you are interested in undergraduate research.
  2. If you have a declared major, talk to your Department Head to ask about undergraduate research in your major and to get tips on which faculty members will help you get started.
  3. Find out about financial support from WCU’s Undergraduate Research programs.

How do you become involved in service learning or volunteer projects at WCU?

  1. Talk to an advisor in WCU’s award-winning Service Learning program.

How do you learn more about student leadership?

  1. Talk to your advisor or favorite professor about getting involved in leadership in your major or other area of professional interest to you.
  2. Run for an office in the Student Government Association.
  3. Consider completing WCU’s Leadership (LEAD) Minor.

How do you get started on studying abroad?

  1. Meet with an advisor in WCU’s Office of International Programs and Services.

Need more information?  Make an appointment with Dr. Bego (

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