Success Stories

Noah Gomez ’17

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Noah finished his Fulbright in June in Luxembourg, where he now resides and works for a multinational IT company. He is currently an Innovation Coordinator where he looks for opportunities mainly in investments and acquisitions to help the company maintain a strong competitive advantage.

When asked what he learned about himself during the application process and what skills he gained while working with ONF, Noah claimed, “the application process was a way to help me channel my ambitions and skills into a great position abroad. I learned that strategy is so important when it comes to applications. The Fulbright needs to be approached strategically. Strategic approach in the sense that not only what you are going to do – how the environment you’re going to be in will fit into what you do after the fellowship; the intangible – culture, people – are what stay with you after Fulbright and serve as the real added value.”

Noah was also asked what he found challenging, but also what was most satisfying about the process. He said the most challenging part was drafting the essays! However, when discussing what was satisfying, he claimed that being bilingual in French, working outside of a US dominated context was the main goal, and it was satisfying to meet that goal. Most importantly, Noah believes that “working with ONF helped me become a better communicator in a professional context. It helped me transition to a professional communicator in every domain.”

Noah’s biggest tip, it is to always show up! He is interested in talking with students at some point who are involved in language, French preferable. However, he will discuss any languages and how we can use languages with business applications. If you are interested in connecting with Noah or have questions for him, please contact Amy Haggard at ahaggard@fsu.edu.

Caitlin Strawder ’13

Caitlin is currently finishing her Master’s in Public Administration at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University as part of the Pickering Fellowship Program. As of May 30, 2019, she will be on her way to complete an internship at the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris as part of her Pickering Fellowship.

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When asked what she learned about herself during the application process and what skills she gained while working with ONF, Caitlin claimed, “I learned that it was okay to admit that you didn't want an award, okay to realize you didn't fit the mold for a certain fellowship path, and it was important to recognize that your accomplishments, service, and involvement are yours to own. The imposter syndrome is real.”

Caitlin was also asked what she found challenging, but also what was most satisfying about the process. She said the most challenging part was having to speak about yourself in a way that is both bragging and optimistic. However, when discussing what was satisfying she claimed, “turning in an application that best represents your authentic self (win or lose) feels fantastic, and gives you a sense of larger goals to keep working towards.”

Caitlin’s biggest tip is that it is never too early to go in to ONF, and it is never going to be a waste of time. She has also been coined to say “ONF – there is an app for that!” She is interested in engaging with students and is open to skype chats or phone calls. If you are interested in connecting with Erin or have questions for her, please contact Amy Haggard at ahaggard@fsu.edu.

Alex Orenstein ’09

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Alex currently resides in Senegal where he is a General Aid Worker. He has been living in Africa for the past 10 years and works with nonprofit organizations, mostly doing early warnings for hunger and finding locations where famines are occurring. He is a cartographer for the humanitarian sector.

When asked what he learned about himself during the application process and what skills he gained while working with ONF, Alex claimed, “The application process was useful and is still useful. It was the first time I had to market myself as a candidate for something. The mock interviews alone were super helpful, but that was not the only thing, having access to someone who knows how this works was a huge help. I learned how to structure an application. I started to apply for more fellowships and grants after my first application because I learned what makes a good application”.

Alex was also asked what he found challenging, but also what was the most satisfying about the process. He said the process was incredibly time consuming and there was really no way around the time constraints. However, when discussing what was satisfying, he claimed realizing he had accomplished his goal of receiving the Truman Scholarship was incredibly satisfying.

Alex’s biggest tip is do not get discouraged when you do not get a fellowship. He claims “you can still learn from going through the experience whether or not you receive the fellowship or scholarship.” He is interested in talking to students who are looking to be involved in humanitarian work, or work abroad. He would also talk to students applying for the Truman scholarship. If you are interested in connecting with Alex of have questions for him, please contact Amy Haggard at ahaggard@fsu.edu.

Erin Simmons ’08, ’11

Erin is currently a Department of Defense contractor working as a research physiologist to study human performance and nutrition at the Navy Experimental Diving Unit in Panama City Beach, Florida. She recently received her doctorate from Texas A&M in nutrition.

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When asked what she learned about herself during the application process and what skills she gained while working with ONF, Erin claimed, “I learned the most about myself during the prep time before the interview. Also through the application process, I learned how to hone in on my background and apply that to my future goals, trying to develop what’s been my motivation up until this point and where do you go from here. I learned how to communicate those goals effectively and propose them in an interview”.

Erin was also asked what she found challenging but also what was most satisfying about the process. She said the most challenging part was the interview process and having to react without fully thinking through everything first. However, when discussing what was satisfying, she claimed, “the best part of it for me was being able to meet and interact with so many facets of the University that I would never have had the opportunity to do otherwise. I made connections and had purposeful conversations. It made me love my school even more.”

Erin’s biggest tip is to use ONF and take advantage of every single opportunity that they offer! She is interested in engaging with students going through the application process. If you are interested in connecting with Erin or have questions for her, please contact Amy Haggard at ahaggard@fsu.edu.

Evan Peterson ’02, ’04, ’09

Evan is currently a full-time author and part-time college professor. He currently teaches creative writing and literature.

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When asked what he learned about himself during the application process and what skills he gained while working with ONF, Evan claimed, “I learned that being an author, application processes are essential. I am glad that I got early experience with applying; I will probably never stop applying for the opportunities out there. Something I did not foresee learning was money management. As a freelancer, money management and time management are skills I use every day.”

Evan was also asked what he found challenging, but also what was most satisfying about the process. He said the most challenging part was the money and time management aspect. But the most satisfying part for him was graduating with a Master of Fine Arts degree with no student debt thanks to his Bright Futures Scholarship. Most importantly, Evan believes that “steady work ethic is something I built with the opportunities I got through ONF”.

Evan’s biggest tip is do not forget to have fun! He is interested in sharing his knowledge and engaging in Q&A sessions with students. If you are interested in connecting with Evan or have questions for him, please contact Amy Haggard at ahaggard@fsu.edu.

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