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Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement Distinguished Scholarships Program

Distinguished Scholarships Opportunity Fund

“It was a wonderful experience, applying for a Fulbright with all the guidance and support I needed to believe in myself. I know that many applicants are not so lucky and they had a much harder time of it trying to do it all on their own. I am grateful.” – J.A. Arinder, Fulbright U.S. Student Scholarship Alternate. She received Opportunity Fund support for Hungarian language tutoring in preparation for her application.

The Distinguished Scholarships Opportunity Fund: Enabling valuable experiences for WSU’s prospective distinguished scholars.

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Gifts of all sizes make powerful investments in our very worthy students.

The Distinguished Scholarships Opportunity Fund has helped prospective distinguished scholarship awardees such as these to fortify their eligibility for prestigious, nationally competitive awards. The support has helped them secure tutoring, travel, and supplementary experiences, for example.


Fulbright winner Melanie Kirby.

  • (In photo above) Ryan Booth (left) was pursuing a Ph.D. in history at WSU Pullman when he decided to apply for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program-Nehru to India. With financial support from the Opportunity Fund, Ryan took basic Hindi language lessons from Sumit Karn, then a student at WSU Everett. Their lessons went beyond language to also cover the personal and cultural knowledge necessary to navigate India, both literally and figuratively. Ryan ultimately received the Fulbright, furthered his research throughout locations in India, and even visited Sumit’s mother as a guest.
  • Marshall and Hollings recipient Kristian Gubsch and Truman finalist Patrick Robichaud attended the COP25 international United Nations climate-change conference in Madrid and added to their professional network of scholars, influencers, and policymakers.
  • Fulbright-National Geographic recipient Melanie Kirby was able to travel to California to work with the Spanish Embassy for her passport. During her ensuing Fulbright experience, she worked in Spain with the national beekeeping community as part of her research.
  • Future policymaker, environmental engineer, and attorney Alyssa Norris traveled to Seattle as one of 199 students nationwide selected to interview for the Truman Scholarship.
  • Travis King conducted summer research as an undergraduate, tracking jaguar and other big-cat scat through the forests of Costa Rica to document migration patterns. He applied, and was invited, to present a poster presentation on his work at an acclaimed conference. King became a Fulbright Scholar and NSF Graduate Research Fellowship winner.

Why Should I Give To This Fund?

Personal, WSU, and National Goals

Distinguished scholarships include awards, such as the Rhodes, Fulbright, Truman, and Goldwater, typically tied to areas deemed to have critical and strategic importance to our country, such as science and engineering research, national security, public and environmental policy, and globalization. WSU applicants compete against thousands, many of whom are the best and brightest from every major and every year in college and beyond. Award winners from Washington State reinforce the reputation for excellence that the state’s land-grant institution has earned for more than a century.

The Process: Every Applicant Benefits

Winning a distinguished scholarship opens many new doors both today and tomorrow. While only a small fraction of award-seekers receive these scholarships, it is widely recognized that every student who embarks on the rigorous and often lengthy process of applying reaps invaluable and life-long rewards. Pursuing these prestigious awards uniquely raises students’ own expectations about what they are capable of, dramatically boosts their self-awareness, helps bring their goals into sharp focus, and fine-tunes a variety of communication skills.

Some Valuable Experiences Come with a Cost

Throughout the process, great opportunities arise that entail additional expenses beyond tuition and fees that many students cannot afford on their own. We believe that talented students should never feel discouraged due to their financial situation to attain impactful experiences and pursue national awards. Accordingly, the Distinguished Scholarships Opportunity Fund is designed to help WSU students cover costs to:

Acquire life-changing experiences:

  • Development of cultural and foreign language skills through one-to-one tutoring
  • Attendance at national and international conferences, meetings, and events that help students build their portfolios and expand professional networks

Be more competitive in the application process:

  • Travel expenses for scholarship interviews and conference presentations
  • Professional clothing and preparation for national interviews
  • Other expenses deemed valuable by the Distinguished Scholarships Program