Dr. Dionel Avilés '53 and Dr. James Johnson '67 Fellowship Program 

*Previously titled the Graduate Diversity Excellence Fellowship

2021-2022 Nomination Guidelines

Texas A&M University believes that diversity is an indispensable component of academic excellence. The Dr. Dionel Avilés ’53 and Dr. James Johnson ’67 Fellowship Program seeks to increase diversity in the graduate and professional student population at Texas A&M and support the development of high achieving scholars who show promise of distinguished careers for the benefit of all students.

Click here to download the PDF version of the Dr. Dionel Avilés ’53 and Dr. James Johnson ’67 Fellowship Program Guidelines. 

Eligibility

Nominees must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents who will earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees no later than August 2021 and have applied for graduate admission to Texas A&M for the Summer or Fall 2021. While it is not required that nominees be admitted at the time of nomination, the nominating department is expected to offer admission to nominees should they be awarded the fellowship. Master’s students currently enrolled at TAMU are eligible.

Nominees should have a superior academic record and meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Belong to gender, racial or ethnic groups that have been historically under-represented in graduate study in their discipline, in the United States, or at TAMU;
  • Have attended a minority serving institution for at least two years of their undergraduate degree or have an undergraduate degree conferred from a minority serving institution, as defined by the U.S. Department of Education;
  • Have a disability defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, as described in Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended;
  • Be a veteran of the U.S. military; or
  • Come from a disadvantaged background, as defined by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for those who meet two or more of the following criteria:
    • Were or are currently homeless, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Assistance Act;
    • Were or are currently in the foster care system, as defined by the Administration for Children and Families;
    • Were eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for two or more years;
    • Have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor’s degree;
    • Were or are currently eligible for Federal Pell grants;
    • Received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) as a parent or child;
    • Grew up in one of the following areas: (a) a U.S. rural area, as designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Health Grants Eligibility Analyzer, or (b) a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-designated Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Areas (qualifying zip codes are included here). Only one of the two possibilities (a or b) can be used as a criterion for the disadvantaged background definition.

Nominations must include a diversity statement and relevant supporting data and narrative identifying the basis of the nominee’s eligibility. For example, if females are underrepresented in electrical and computer engineering, data provided should show the percentage of women in electrical engineering, in their department/program and/or profession.

In addition to meeting the stated criteria of eligibility, nominees for the 2021-2022 Avilés-Johnson Fellowship Program must be applying for enrollment in the following colleges/schools or interdisciplinary programs.

  1. Colleges/Schools: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Architecture, Bush School, Education and Human Development, Engineering, Mays Business School, Geosciences, Liberal Arts, Medicine, Science, or Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
  2. Interdisciplinary programs: Agribusiness and Managerial Economics, Biotechnology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Marine Biology at TAMU – College Station, Molecular and Environmental Plant Sciences, Genetics, Neuroscience, Toxicology, or Water Management and Hydrological Science.

About the Award

The Avilés-Johnson Doctoral Fellowship provides four years of funding for domestic doctoral students enrolling for the first time in a doctoral program in Summer or Fall 2021.

Avilés-Johnson Doctoral Fellowship Collaborative Funding Details

Years 1-3: $20,000 annual stipend, 25% or 50% assistantship, and tuition and required fees

$20,000 stipend paid by OGAPS in years 1-3
25% FTE college, department, or program funded assistantship

  • OGAPS and College, collaboratively, pays tuition as well as required university and college fees for full-time enrollment.
  • OGAPS provides reimbursement for the cost of personal health insurance coverage equivalent to the cost of the student health insurance plan premium.

50% FTE college, department, or program-funded assistantship

  • OGAPS and College, collaboratively, pays tuition as well as required university and college fees at full-time enrollment.
  • Employing unit pays employer contribution for graduate student employee health plan.

Year 4: 50% assistantship (mandatory) and tuition and required fees

50% FTE college, department, or program-funded assistantship

  • Assistantship payee and College, collaboratively, pay tuition as well as required university and college fees for full-time enrollment.
  • Employing unit pays employer contribution for graduate student employee health plan.

Year 5: assistantship (optional)


The Avilés-Johnson Master’s Fellowship provides two years of funding for domestic master’s students enrolling for the first time in a master’s program in Summer or Fall 2021.

Avilés-Johnson Master’s Fellowship Collaborative Funding Details

Years 1 and 2: $15,000 annual stipend, 25% or 50% assistantship, and tuition and required fees

$15,000 stipend paid by OGAPS in year 1 and year 2
25% FTE college, department, or program-funded assistantship

  • OGAPS and College, collaboratively, pay tuition as well as required university and college fees for full-time enrollment.
  • OGAPS provides reimbursement for the cost of personal health insurance coverage equivalent to the cost of the student health insurance plan premium.

50% FTE college, department, or program-funded assistantship

  • OGAPS and College, collaboratively, pay tuition as well as required university and college fees for full-time enrollment.
  • Employing unit pays employer contribution for graduate student employee health plan.


Some exceptions may be approved by OGAPS for a department/program to offer a scholarship instead of an assistantship. The scholarship amount must, at a minimum match a 25% FTE assistantship at the department’s standard assistantship rate. In those cases, the department/program must also provide payment for the student health insurance plan. The request to offer a scholarship instead of an assistantship must be submitted to and approved by OGAPS before the nomination is submitted. Approved scholarships, to date, are noted below.

Mays Business School (MBA)

Year 1: $15,000 stipend, approved scholarship, and tuition and required fees
Year 2 (fall only): $7,500 stipend, approved scholarship, and tuition and required fees

$15,000 stipend in year 1 and $7,500 stipend in fall of year 2 paid by OGAPS
Approved scholarship (at a minimum, equivalent to department’s 25% FTE assistantship rate) in year 1 and in Fall of year 2

  • OGAPS and College, collaboratively, pay tuition as well as required university and college fees for full-time enrollment.
  • Scholarship unit provides cost of personal health insurance coverage equivalent to the cost of the student health insurance plan premium.

The Bush School of Government and Public Service (INTA and MPSA)

Years 1 and 2: $15,000 stipend, approved scholarship, and tuition and required fees

$15,000 stipend paid by OGAPS in year 1 and year 2

  • OGAPS and College, collaboratively, pay tuition as well as required university and college fees for full-time enrollment.
  • Scholarship unit provides cost of personal health insurance coverage equivalent to the cost of the student health insurance plan premium.


For both the master’s and doctoral level awards, work effort for the assistantship should be consistent with FTE (e.g. standard work effort for 25% FTE equals 10 hours/week). Funding begins Fall 2021.

It is essential that Avilés-Johnson Fellowship recipients be given ample opportunities for success and integration into the culture of their respective department early in their campus residence. Individual Development Plans (IDPs) will be required of all fellows pursing research degrees and submitted annually, following year one, throughout their funding tenure. Individual development plans promote the assessment of current skills, interests, and strengths; the creation of plans for developing skills to meet academic and professional goals; and communication with supervisors, advisors, and mentors about evolving goals and related skills. The IDP is most valuable when working with an advisor/mentor; therefore, faculty advisors of Fellows will be required to participate in at least one IDP development session.

As part of the nomination process, nominators must submit the student’s GraduateCAS, EngineeringCAS or BusinessCAS application materials and a two-page letter of nomination that provides an evaluation of the applicant’s 1) superior academic performance, 2) relevant experiences outside the classroom, 3) other indicators of future success; and, finally, 4) how this applicant will contribute to diversity in the nominating department/program, the university, and to the future profession. In addition, each nomination should include a diversity statement with supporting data and narrative. Below is a checklist of items that MUST be included in the nomination packet. The deadlines for submitting Avilés-Johnson Fellowship nominations are 5 p.m. CDT, February 1, 2021 (doctoral nominations only) and March 1, 2021 (master’s and 2nd round of doctoral nominations).

Reviewers will consider the master’s and doctoral nominations separately. Departments or IDP programs may submit up to five (5) master’s nominations for round 2 and up to fifteen (15) doctoral nominations across both rounds, but may not nominate a student more than once. The award selection committee will complete reviews following each submission deadline (February 1, 2021 and March 1, 2021). Nominators, graduate advisors, department heads, and graduate deans will be notified of which applicants have been selected for the Avilés-Johnson Fellowship within three (3) weeks of the nomination deadline.

FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM EVALUATION CRITERIA

Reviewers will consider all aspects of the applicant’s experiences in the evaluation process with a focus on excellence and how the applicant will contribute to diversity at Texas A&M. The review elements noted below may be gauged in multiple parts of the nomination application. Such measures include, but are not limited to: the caliber of curricular rigor in prior institutions attended; cumulative grade point average in the wider context of the academic record; the maturity and sophistication of the personal statement; the extent and quality of prior research experience; recommendations from faculty; and correspondence between research interests and available faculty expertise.

  • Evidence of superior academic achievement such as class rank; GPA; quality of undergraduate institution; honors or other awards; etc.
  • Relevant experiences outside of the classroom such as extracurricular experiences related to course of study; leadership experiences; work experiences; military experiences; internships; personal history; international experiences (i.e., study abroad, semester at sea, etc.); research experiences (either at their own university or in summer undergraduate research opportunities at other universities); oral or poster presentations; publications; etc.
  • Non-cognitive and personal attributes that speak to the nominee’s research potential, adaptability, creativity and collegiality; motivation and experience; persistence in and commitment to educational success; social and emotional skills and character traits; etc.

FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM NOMINATOR CHECKLIST

All nomination submissions MUST include the items noted below.

For master’s and doctoral nominations of students NOT currently enrolled at TAMU:

  1. Nomination application entry fields regarding nominee.
  2. A nomination letter clearly describing the nominee’s: 1) superior academic performance, 2) relevant experiences outside the classroom, and 3) other indicators of future success (no more than two (2) pages).
  3. A diversity statement addressing how the nominee will contribute to diversity in the nominating department/program, university, and/or future profession. The diversity statement must include relevant supporting data and narrative about the basis of the nominee’s eligibility regarding noted markers of diversity (no more than one (1) page).
  4. At least one, but no more than three (3), letters of recommendation for the nominee.*
  5. Financial Commitment summary noting the department/program’s financial offer to complement the collaborative funding package.
  6. Nominee’s resume or curriculum vitae.
  7. GraduateCAS, EngineeringCAS or BusinessCAS application materials (e.g. application, personal statement, transcripts, etc.).

*Letters of recommendation included in GraduateCAS, EngineeringCAS, or BusinessCAS application materials are sufficient.

For master's or doctoral nominations of students currently enrolled in a TAMU undergraduate or master’s program:

  1. Nomination application entry fields regarding nominee.
  2.  A nomination letter clearly describing the nominee’s: 1) superior academic performance, 2)relevant experiences outside the classroom, and 3) other indicators of future success (no more thantwo (2) pages).
  3.  A diversity statement that addresses how the nominee will contribute to diversity in thenominating department/program, university, and/or future profession. The diversity statement mustinclude relevant supporting data and narrative about the basis of the nominee’s eligibility regardingnoted markers of diversity (no more than one (1) page).
  4.  Two (2) new letters of recommendation for the student (no more than four (4) total pages).
  5.  Financial Commitment summary noting the department/program’s financial offer to complementthe collaborative funding package.
  6.  Student’s resume or curriculum vitae.
  7.  Copy of undergraduate degree transcript.
  8.  Copy of TAMU master’s degree transcript (if applicable).


Reviewer Resources


For general questions about fellowship requirements, contact Dr. Shannon D. Walton, Director for Graduate and Professional Studies, at shannon@tamu.edu or 979-845-3631.

 

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