That’s the message from Casciato, who is devoted to seeing more Rutgers undergraduates apply for fellowships each year. Since arriving at Rutgers–New Brunswick from the University of Pennsylvania in 2007, Casciato has helped over 800 students apply for fellowships to study at Cambridge and Oxford and travel everywhere from Colombia to Thailand. Rutgers won four Gates fellowships in his first year here—more than any other university in the nation (well, Rutgers tied with Harvard, actually)—and since then the university snagged its second-ever Churchill Scholarship, several Goldwater Scholarships, and more Fulbright grants than in any other year. Casciato’s office is on a roll, thanks to both his enthusiasm and his dedication in seeking out students to apply for fellowships.
STORIES TO TELL
“We have students who are just as good as the students at the Ivies,” says Casciato, “and Rutgers students have better stories to tell. There’s no lack of students to apply for fellowships.”
How do students learn about the opportunities? Casciato reaches out in a number of ways:
- A letter from the university president seeks names of possible candidates from professors and researchers.
- Casciato sparks interest by speaking to groups of undergraduates, from honors programs to student clubs.
- Casciato draws on the criteria prized by fellowship committees to conduct his own search for candidates.
- And with Rutgers’ successes, word-of-mouth is helping out the search for candidates.
Recent successes have included:
Casciato follows up with each student individually, typically initiating the conversation by email and then meeting with students one-on-one at his office in Old Queens on the College Avenue Campus.
HONEST TAKING OF STOCK
Casciato thinks of himself as a coach or trainer for what is, realistically, a tough competition. But just as in sports, it’s not just about the winning. “It’s the trying that’s really important,” he says. “Students learn about themselves in this process. It’s a chance to take a deep breath and really do some honest taking of stock.”