Optimism: How the IRT’s Approach Made All the Difference

Adaiah Hudgins-Lopez, IRT ’20

Adaiah Hudgins-Lopez in Trinity College Chapel at the University of Cambridge.
Photo credit: Henry Kamara.

At the beginning of my last year at Bowdoin College, I met with a staff member to discuss how I could apply for scholarships and fellowships of interest. As a Mellon Mays Fellow and anthropologist by training, I always knew I wanted to pursue research and teaching as a full-time career, and I hoped to conduct research ahead of applying to graduate school. This staff member glanced through my transcript and CV and, finally, declared that my GPA was not high enough, my extensive work experience was not particularly distinctive or exceptional, and my lack of language study at the time made me unqualified. This person said I was not a strong enough applicant for the opportunities I was interested in and suggested I craft applications for fellowships unaligned with my interests simply because they had much higher acceptance rates. I sat there dumbfounded, devastated, and began to check out of the conversation mentally. What was the purpose of me going through four years of undergraduate study if I was still unqualified to begin the pathway toward my desired career?

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