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Apply for 2014 David J. Beck Fellowships by Oct. 1

As this year’s David J. Beck Fellows, one Lamar University student spent the summer as a research assistant at the National Institutes of Health while another studied literature in Argentina with top authors and critics.

Now, Lamar University undergraduates in any major have the opportunity to apply for the 2014 David J. Beck Fellowships to pursue their own dream projects. The application deadline for this prestigious and generous award is Oct. 1.

Two David J. Beck Fellows will be selected to receive full academic scholarships to LU for 2014, covering all tuition, fees, books and on-campus room and board. Additionally, fellows receive up to $10,000 each for summer projects, which may include research, travel, an internship or other activity to help them achieve their personal and professional goals.

Lamar University’s 2013 Beck Fellows, Amy Morgan of Silsbee, an English and Spanish major, and Crissie Vandehoef of Port Neches, a biology and chemistry major, both said they would encourage other students to apply even if the fellowship seems out of reach or the process seems daunting.

“I think it’s important for people to put themselves out there,” Morgan said. “Even if you don’t get it, you gain valuable experience in the process of applying.”

Amy Morgan stands in front of Iguazu Falls in Argentina

Morgan, who plans to pursue a career as a literary translator, is now at work on translations of works by the founder of the seminar she attended in Argentina, where she met an Argentine poet whose work she also hopes to translate into English.

“When you’re there and you get to see the places and things that are written about, it really raises your level of understanding of a culture and their literature,” Morgan said. “I wanted to make sure I absorbed as much of the culture as I could. I don’t think you can be a good translator if you don’t know anything about a culture.”

Prior to being awarded the Beck Fellowship, Vandehoef contacted Dr. Robert Colbert at the NIH and received an invitation to work with him on research related to ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease from which she suffers. However, she would not have been able to take advantage of that opportunity without the funding provided by the fellowship.

“The NIH is awesome,” said Vandehoef, who plans to obtain an M.D./Ph.D. and pursue a career in biomedical research. “It solidified my idea of where I want to be and what type of scientist I want to be and how I want to look at my research. Obviously, I developed really good techniques while I was there. Because I got there at the beginning of the project, I got to help and watch the project develop and learn about how to control for variables. I think that will help the most going forward.”

Crissie Vandehoef discusses her research poster with her mentor at the NIH

Morgan and Vandehoef will give presentations about their summer experiences at a ceremony honoring the 2014 David J. Beck Fellows later this semester.

Applicants must be full-time Lamar University undergraduates in any major with grade point averages of 3.5 or higher who plan to graduate no earlier than December 2014. Fellows are selected based on the strength of their complete application packet, including proposed summer project, academic record and financial need. Finalists will be interviewed in October.

Application packets are available online at www.lamar.edu/beckfellowships and in the offices of the senior associate provost (Plummer 104), Honors Program (Honors Building) or each college dean. For more information, visit www.lamar.edu/beckfellowships or call (409) 880-8400.

The David J. Beck Fellowships were made possible by a gift to LU’s Investing in the Future campaign from distinguished alumnus David J. Beck. A former regent of the Lamar University System, Beck is a founding partner in a premier Houston law firm, Beck Redden & Secrest. A Port Arthur native, he credits Lamar University with giving him the opportunity to attend college and gain a foundation for future success.