How to fund your graduate education! Dr. Ordóñez Rozo and Dr. Carter-Johnson (PROMISE Alumni) present their award-winning seminar on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012

SPECIAL SATURDAY SESSION: Success Seminar on Funding & Fellowships, with special emphasis on the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Application.


“How to Fund Your Graduate Education”

Speakers: PROMISE Alumni, Dr. Frances D. Carter-Johnson and Dr. Patricia Ordóñez Rozo 

Dr. Carter-Johnson is a graduate of UMBC’s Department of Public Policy and currently serves as a STEM Policy Analyst at Westat.  Dr. Carter-Johnson has degrees in Public Policy, Applied Physics, Pure Physics, and Mechanical Engineering from UMBC, Georgia Tech, and Spelman College. She has received fellowships from NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP), SREB, GAANN, and GEM. As of September 2012, Dr. Carter-Johnson will be joining the Teaching and Learning Laboratory at MIT.

Dr. Ordóñez Rozo is a graduate of UMBC’s Department of Computer Science. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras. Dr. Ordóñez Rozo has degrees in Hispanic and Italian Studies, and Computer Science.  She has taught several classes at UMBC and was a Technical Trainer for UMBC’s Training Centers, focusing on JAVA Computer Programming Certifications and curriculum development. Dr. Ordóñez Rozo was a NSF Graduate Research Fellow, and has won fellowships from Xerox, Verizon, and UMBC.

Dr. Carter-Johnson and Dr.  Ordóñez Rozo were PROMISE Peer Mentors and have collectively been invited speakers on this topic at the National Science Foundation’s HBCU-UP national conference, the American Association for the Advancement in Science’s  Emerging Researchers Network national Conference, Harvard, UMBC, and MIT. This fall, Dr. Ordóñez Rozo will also present this topic in Puerto Rico. Our speakers’ work was presented at the “Understanding Interventions” national conference in 2012. To date, at least 10 of their mentees who have taken their workshops have won the prestigious NSF GRFP Fellowship, or other award, for a total of approximately $1 million of fellowship money! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Public Policy Building, Room 206

SESSION 1: “Funding Your Graduate Education.” 

10:00 AM -12:00 PM — SEMINAR (General Public)

This seminar will include general information about funding for graduate school. Information regarding a variety of fellowships will be shared. Most of the content will focus on funding that is available in the U.S. for students in STEM fields.  Many of these fellowship opportunities are sponsored by the U.S. government, and are therefore reserved for U.S. students. There will be a small amount of information available to international students and students in the Humanities and Education, but in addition to talking about general fellowships, a primary focus of this seminar will be the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP).  The NSF GRFP Fellowship covers STEM fields, including social and behavioral sciences, e.g., Psychology, STEM Education, Public Policy.)

Breakfast will be served.


SESSION 2: “Starting Your Application”

12:00 PM – 3:00 PM — NSF Fastlane session (By reservation/appointment only)

To join this session, you must reserve your space in the comments below before September 7, and you must bring your laptop.  This session is for those who are making the commitment to submit the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship application. Participation in this session requires participation in SESSION 1. This session will take you through the process of logging onto the Fastlane, NSF’s online application submission website, and the presenters will assist you with the early stages of preparing your essays and documents for the fellowship application.

List of fields:

Applicants for the GRFP must meet the following criteria:

  • During the senior year of an undergraduate program
  • After completing their undergraduate program but prior to entering graduate school
  • During the first year of graduate school
  • Prior to completing the Fall term of the second year of a full-time graduate program.

Lunch will be served at SESSION 2.

[Both undergraduates and graduate students may attend SESSION 1 and SESSION 2.]

Other NSF GRFP recipients are invited to join these session to provide advice. The original MyUMBC discussion with funding information can be found here:


  • Students at UMBC should login to MyUMBC and click “I can Attend” here:
  • Students from other campuses may RSVP by writing your name, discipline, and school in the comments below.
  • Students from underrepresented groups in STEM, LSAMP, AGEP, ERC, other US government sponsored programs, e.g., McNair, Trio, NIH, etc.  are especially invited to attend as participating in a seminar about the NSF GRFP fits into the missions of various government agencies with regard to increasing diversity in STEM.

This program is sponsored by PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), and The Graduate School at UMBC.

Related video

Watch Dr. Frances Carter-Johnson and Dr. Ordóñez Rozo as they present an interactive workshop on funding at MIT, Summer 2012: (Start video at 3:39.) You may use this video as a resource before and after the September 15, 2012 workshop.

Published by Renetta Garrison Tull

Dr. Renetta Garrison Tull is the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the University of California Davis. She previously served as Associate Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives at The Graduate School at UMBC, and was Professor of the Practice in the College of Engineering & IT. She was Special Assistant to the Sr. Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs & Director of Graduate and Professional Pipeline Development for the University System of Maryland (12 institutions). She is the Founding Director of PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) –, and Co-PI for the USM LSAMP. Her research on global diversity in STEM continues, and she is an international speaker, covering nearly all continents, for groups and conferences such as the World Engineering Education Forum, the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies, and the Pacific Sciences Congress. Her personal website is: Connect with her on Twitter: @Renetta_Tull;

43 thoughts on “How to fund your graduate education! Dr. Ordóñez Rozo and Dr. Carter-Johnson (PROMISE Alumni) present their award-winning seminar on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012

  1. Jalisa Whitley
    University of Maryland, College Park
    Master of Public Policy specializing in Social Policy with a focus in Non-Profit Management and Leadership


  2. I would like to attend both sessions 1 & 2 on Saturday, Sept. 14th. Will they both be held on the campus of UMBC? Will their be specific parking areas for visitor’s/ PROMISE participants?

    Tina S. Thomas, B.S


    1. Dear Tina,
      This seminar is specifically about fellowships and funding. While Dr. Carter-Johnson and Dr. Ordóñez Rozo will not be talking about research opportunities, they can share their experiences with you directly. Both had research experiences on campus, as well as experience off-campus, e.g. Corning and IBM. Several of the other students who will be at the session have also had research experiences on campus, at other schools, at companies, and non-profits. Check your email later this morning for a message from me with more details.

      Dr. Tull


  3. I am a first year graduate student in the Human Services Psychology program at UMBC and found this seminar to be extremely helpful in preparing to fund my education! I applied for an NSF fellowship last year but was not awarded funding. The seminar today helped me outline some key things to improve upon for my application this year, and also allowed me to see my research goals in a broader perspective. Discussing my essay plans with the other students at the seminar was incredibly useful for synthesizing the big picture/context of my graduate work.


  4. This seminar was so informative! It was very beneficial to discuss my essays with peers, and particularly peers from other disciplines, since our application components should be understood by a broader audience.


  5. Thank you Dr. Ordóñez Rozo, Dr. Carter Johnson, and the PROMISE staff for organizing this funding seminar for graduate (and soon to be graduate) students. It was a great reminder of what funding opportunities exist for graduate school. Since the discussion was primarily focused on the NSF GRFP, I learned about many of the important submission dates for my field, the essentials of our essays including “intellectual merit” and “broader impact”, and how to manage the time I spend preparing my application for this fellowship. I appreciate the pre-made funding folders that were handed out; I’ll be sure to use it as I work on my application. Thanks again!


  6. I would like to personally thank Dr. Ordonez-Rozo, Dr. Carter-Johnson, and the PROMISE committee for putting together this seminar on obtaining NSF funding. I have already started my application process, and have begun contacting old professors and advisors for letters of recommendation. The seminar was very helpful in formulating my personal statement and research plan. Though I wrote my personal statement last year, I know how to re-write it to make it memorable. I am very grateful that both Dr. Ordonez-Rozo and Dr. Carter-Johnson took time out of their busy schedules to give this fantastic seminar. I feel confident that I will gain a lot out of this application process, and be better prepared to write my dissertation proposal next summer.


  7. First, I have to thank Dr. Orodonez-Rozo, Dr. Carter-Johnson, and the PROMISE Program for providing this valuable seminar. As a first year graduate student, I had not heard of the NSF-GRFP until this seminar. I feel privileged that I was able to attend and take in the advice given by Dr. Orodonez-Rozo and Dr. Carter-Johnson. I have found the three worksheets for the essays involved with the NSF-GRFP very useful. I am not the most organized person, so their tips on making a file folder for each application, as well as these three worksheets will definitely help me stay organized. Finally, I have to thank both presenters again for providing their personal award-winning essays to all who attended. It is such a great opportunity to examine the essays and determine what made them award-winning. Thank you again.


  8. This is a great seminar. It was my second year attending and I still managed to learn a lot from it that I had missed last year. One of the most important things for me was the issue of letters of reccomendation. Most of the people that can write me a letter I have not talked to in several years, so I learned different steps that I can take to approach these people and how to “read” if they are willing or not and if they will sincerely write me a good letter. I have already utilized this information, and approached a previous PI who said he will gladly do it for me, so I am very satisfied. Dr. Ordoñez and Dr. Carter-Johnson are very knowledgeable and it shows that they know what they are talking about. Thank you both for your insight!


  9. This seminar was very informative. I learned what the specific requirements for each of the essays required for the NSF GRFP. I also learned about the many common mistakes people make while applying. I believe the information gained in this seminar will greatly improve my future fellowship applications. I would like to thank Dr. Orodonez, Dr. Carter-Johnson, and the PROMISE Program for providing this seminar!


  10. The seminar was great, I didn’t know there were so many ways to obtain funding and I also now know some very helpful tips and directions that would lead to a winning application. Even though it was focused on the NSF GRFP, the advice that was given during the talk can be easily applied during the process of applying for any fellowship. One major point I took away from the seminar that I will be putting to use myself is to give myself time and to begin this process as early as possible. Thank you Dr. Ordóñez Rozo, Dr. Carter-Johnson, and the PROMISE staff for a wonderful seminar.


  11. I thoroughly enjoyed the seminar. It was a great reminder about the many sources of funding available for graduate school. It focused mainly on the NSF GFRP, but I feel like with the information that I learned, I can apply for many fellowships. The three worksheets that were provided were useful in giving me major points to focus on when organizing my ideas. I will continue to use the worksheets and the sample papers to stay focused and I will use the links provided to apply to other fellowships as well. I would like to thank Dr. Ordóñez Rozo, Dr. Carter-Johnson and PROMISE for providing this seminar.


  12. I really enjoyed this seminar. Dr. Ordonez and Dr. Carter-Johnson presentation provided a lot of useful information about completing a successful funding application and revealed to me the number funding opportunities available for me to fund my graduate school education. The one thing that I enjoyed the most was the questionnaire about the three different essays required for the NSF Fellowship and the group discussion that went along with it. This process allowed me to come up with ideas for the basis of my essays and the peer feedback helped me to improve on the general ideas I had developed. One thing that I will take away from this seminar is that its never to late to get started. Getting some additional research experience under my belt is something I’ve been concerned with seeing my undergraduate exerienxe was very limited. Hearing Dr. Ordonez story let me see what steps I can take to addressing this concern. I really enjoyed this talk and will recommend it to anyone planning on attending graduate school. This would have been a great talk to hear while I was still in undergrad. Thanks again to you both!


  13. I attended this seminar last fall and I was very impressed with what I was able to take away from it with regards to funding for graduate school. This year, after having experienced graduate school and some of the funding activities I felt I could take a lot more away from the seminar. The updated slides highlighting the resources and outlining the exact process for the NSF GRFP was very helpful. I liked how Dr. Carter-Johnson and Dr. Ordonez Rozo explained the connection between this fellowship application and other fellowship, grant, and scholarship applications. I feel like the message really came across this year of how important it is to reflect on your own experiences and be able to represent yourself in a manner that other researchers and scholars will appreciate.

    I will be applying for the NSF GRFP this year so I will be utilizing the information from the seminar to complete that application. I will also be exploring what other fellowship applications are similar to the NSF GRFP. I will use the planning strategies to apply for other fellowships and other types of funding in general. I will also pass on the information to other graduate and undergraduate students who I know will be considering applying for funding. I only have one suggestion to improve the effectiveness of this seminar and that is to offer it in the spring or just follow-up with participants from the seminar toward the end of the semester when people can plan ahead for upcoming summer application offerings.


  14. This funding seminar was a rewarding experience! To Dr. Ordóñez Rozo and Dr. Carter Johnson , I want to personally thank you for dedicating your time to provide us with insight and helpful hints. I had no idea of the many resources available to us graduate students. The entire seminar was very intriguing and I especially appreciated the on-line examples. Throughout the entire seminar you guys encouraged audience participation and even peer group critiques for our use. I am definitely motivated to complete an award-winning packet, and look forward to hearing from me soon!


  15. Funding Seminar was very informative and enlightening. Thanks to Dr. Renetta for organizing the event and to Dr. Ordonez Rozo/ Dr. Carter-Johnson for engaging us with such current and relevant information.

    So I realize that funding for Graduate school is not as elusive as was my previous perception. Assistantships and Fellowships are available through most College’s/Universities and respective Organizations like the NSF/Fulbright Scholars.

    When applying for fellowships organiziaion, planning a calender, is very important. So is keeping track of require ments like Gre’s/Transcripts, Essays, Due Dates e.t.c The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (NSF GRFP) provides something known as NSF Fastlane; available for NSF fellowship applications, a tool that expedites the application process. Also relevant to NSF GRFP as requirements for research grant proposals are: Intellectual Merit/Broader Impacts. Seminar was indeed very much appreciated.

    Thanks for providing us with such useful and applicable information towards funding our graduate studies.



    Graduate School:
    Do I have to pay to go to graduate school? How does it all work?
    Tips on Funding Opportunities and Applying to Programs

    • Join our free webinar on Thursday September 20th 7 p.m. EST for a short presentation followed by a Question & Answer period
    • Learn about national fellowships, scholarships and other methods of graduate school support.
    • Hear from current graduate students about their experiences
    • Pick up materials about how to strengthen your applications
    • Learn how graduate school varies from the undergraduate experience
    • Preregistration is required. Please sign up and pre-share your questions with us at


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