Office of Fellowships appoints new director as inaugural director retires

Erica Snow, Assistant Campus Editor

When Sara Anson Vaux, the director of the Office of Fellowships, hired Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe to the office roughly 10 years ago, Vaux knew Pardoe could one day be the office’s director.

“I had my eye on her right away,” Vaux said. “She’s everything that I know that a fellowship enterprise should be. … I said, ‘OK, I’m training her.’”

Pardoe (Weinberg ‘92) is currently a senior associate director and will serve as the director of of the office after Vaux retires at the end of August. The office assists students in applying for competitive scholarships, grants and fellowships such as the Rhodes Scholarship and the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Because the director position is demanding, Vaux said Pardoe must prioritize and manage her time across several projects.

“Although she is multitalented, she has to protect her time,” Vaux said. “She’s got such a good head on her shoulders, but since she is so competent, it would be easy for other people to say, ‘Oh, that’s a superstar, so we’ll just use more of her time.’”

The office first opened its doors in 1998 with Vaux as its inaugural director. The office has since served alumni, undergraduate students and graduate students on Northwestern’s Evanston, Chicago and Qatar campuses.

Vaux said although the office is small, the teamwork and capability of the staff make it a welcoming place for students. The office’s work extends beyond business hours and the working week, Pardoe said, adding that she had hosted a mock interview at her home during brunch on a Sunday.

Pardoe said she prefers when students come to the office without preconceived notions of their preferred program. Instead, she said she wants to fit students to programs compatible with their interests. Asking students where they want to be when they’re older can invoke self-reflection and enable goal-setting, she added.

Connecting students to the appropriate programs to pursue research or higher degrees is a form of “intellectual matchmaking,” Pardoe said.

Pardoe said she enjoys watching students she worked with develop their careers and continue their studies.

“You turn on MSNBC, you’re seeing this person who I first met as a sophomore in college being interviewed as the expert on topics,” she said. “Watching that life trajectory is phenomenal and getting to work with them as they make good choices and develop their interests and pursue them is undoubtedly the best bit.”

Northwestern is tied with Yale University for having the third-most recipients of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants in the 2015-2016 cycle, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education ranking. For 11 consecutive years, NU has ranked among the top 10 producers of Fulbright recipients.

Andrew Gruen (Medill ‘07) is a Henry Luce Foundation Scholar and two-time Gates Cambridge Scholar. He said working with the Office of Fellowships through an intensive process of essay editing and mock interviewing strengthened his applications.

Gruen said even though essays and interviews are important to the application process, interpersonal skills and confidence are essential tools he learned under Pardoe’s leadership.

“I came into the Office of Fellowships not really knowing what I was doing,” Gruen said. “The reason why Beth is great at what she does has nothing to do with this and everything to do with her ability to put interesting people together and actually shape the course of their careers and lives.”

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