Beyond borders: MU's Office of Global and National Fellowships helps students' career dreams take flight

Erik Potter and his team have built a program dedicated to preparing and matching MU students with the most competitive fellowships around the world.

March 26, 2024
Contact: Eric Stann, 573-882-3346,

Students at the University of Missouri are driven by a desire to enrich their educational experiences. That’s one reason MU created the Office of Global and National Fellowships. The office, directed by Erik Potter, serves as a guide to help students across campus secure funding for a variety of study, research and teaching opportunities around the globe. The rigorous yet rewarding process connects students to new perspectives and unmatched opportunities.

The journey begins with pairing MU students with fellowship advisors Lauren Pike, Nina Wilson or Erik Potter. Collaboratively, they engage in a process that spans several months to identify fellowship opportunities that resonate with the students' goals and priorities.

“Before submitting an application for a competitive award, we want students to recognize their potential and understand how their personal stories align with their goals,” Potter said. "In the end, students emerge as stronger advocates for their own intellectual, professional and personal aspirations. For me, that means they've achieved success, regardless of whether they ultimately receive the award they’ve applied for.”

Navigating international relations

Senior Jaden Reed’s experience with the office allowed her to spend summer 2023 in Kyrgyzstan. Reed, an international studies major, said the experience aligned with her career aspirations and solidified her dedication to international relations.

“I’ve always dreamed of working for the United Nations, and the immersive, hands-on experience across the country enabled me to explore my career and narrow down the area where I want to specialize,” she said. "It showed me that what I’m studying for is definitely the career path I want to take.”

Reed said working with her advisor was an introspective process that helped her become a better student and global citizen.

Jaden Reed

"This process has helped me grow my confidence, get to know myself better and clarify my aspirations,” she said. “It helped me reflect on how my background and past experiences have shaped who I am today and how they will propel me to my future. Those are lessons I’ll take with me throughout life."

In addition to studying in Kyrgzstan, Reed received a Gilman Scholarship, which allowed her to study in Morocco, Spain and France.

“While studying abroad, I created a network with students from all over the world while continuing to increase my knowledge about refugee laws,” Reed said. “Without help from the Office of Global and National Fellowships, I would not have been able to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Shaping media perceptions of Latin America

Tanner Smith, a junior communications and political science double major, also turned to the Office of Global and National Fellowships in his pursuit of competitive internships.

In working with his advisor, Smith learned of ways to make his profile stronger. One of the things he did was travel to Washington D.C. to present findings from his recent research on the media's impact on the Latin American population. Simultaneously, Smith actively expanded his professional network, acquiring valuable insights into indispensable career skills. This deliberate exposure not only deepened his understanding but also fortified his preparedness for the requisites of his future career.

His hard work paid off, and Smith was recently awarded the Fulbright Canada-Mitacs Globalink Research Internship. Next summer, using his internship he will have the opportunity to take part in professional training and extensive opportunities for cultural, social and academic experiences in Canada.

Tanner Smith

Moving forward, Smith is focused to take on a new challenge— the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which would help him advance his studies of media stereotyping.

“I wish I had known about the Office of Global and National Fellowships sooner,” said Smith, who is also pursuing an Honors Certificate at MU. “While you must delve deep into your goals and what you truly want for your career, the advisors will steer you right where you want to be. Mizzou is lucky to have a resource like this.”

Both Reed and Smith eagerly await their next challenges knowing their advisors are right by their side ready to help them succeed wherever they go.

Story written by Santiago Guzman

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