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Fordham At Work: Maria Noonan

Photo by Angie Chen

Photo by Angie Chen

Assistant Director, Office of Prestigious Fellowships, Rose Hill

Seven years

Maria assists students at Rose Hill with applying for national and international fellowships, scholarships and internships. She networks with other fellowship advisers, both internally and at universities nationwide. As a liaison for prestigious student awards at Fordham, she keeps in close contact with award-granting organizations.

After completing her studies in marketing and communications, Maria began working for several private firms in that field. She then moved to a travel-advertising agency, where she became an account director. When the company closed after 9/11, she decided not to return to advertising. She came to Fordham and began working with John Kezel, Ph.D., director of prestigious fellowships.

“There are several major award programs outside of the United States, including the Rhodes, Marshall, Gates Cambridge, St. Andrew’s and Mitchell Scholarships. Many of these awards allow students to pursue a second bachelor’s degree or graduate studies toward a master’s or doctoral degree. The Fulbright is another major award; it is a very large program that receives many applications.”

“The first step begins with our department’s active outreach to potential student-candidates, or with students who are referred to us by various faculty and departments. Then, as a team, we guide them through the entire application process, often working together with them for several semesters. Along the way, we’ll suggest other avenues that might also help them attain the goals that they are trying to reach. Ultimately, if they become finalists, which is our goal with the written application, their opportunities become wide open and we help to prepare them for their selection interviews.”

“The finalist pools are very small for these fellowships, so reaching that stage is in and of itself an amazing accomplishment. After students become finalists, we practice with them by bringing in experts and outside scholars to participate in mock interview panels. We try to mimic real-life situations as closely as possible, so the interview panels are usually a mix of academics and professionals. The application process can be transforming for many students and—win or lose—they often learn a great deal about themselves and their direction for the future.”

“We offer information sessions about various scholarships. Last May, we ran a session at which I asked former candidates and award winners—who had been through the application process themselves—to present to freshmen and sophomores from the Fordham colleges. They offered valuable insights to prospective students who were looking to apply.”

“I love meeting our students and working with them. Application essays have to be original and personal, so students really have to dig down deep inside themselves and put their thoughts on paper. I learn a lot about the students from reading what they write. Also, the support that we have gotten from the administration has been amazing. Our faculty is tremendous and I feel very lucky to be working at such a wonderful institution.”

“I enjoy going to the theatre, reading books, and I really like to cook. I also enjoy traveling; I’ve been to Europe and to various places in the U.S. I especially appreciate any time that I can spend with my family—my husband, three sons and our dogs, as well as time with our large extended family.”


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