Nationally Competitive Scholarships Joins University College

BOONE, N.C. — University College at Appalachian State University, one of nine colleges and schools within Appalachian’s Division of Academic Affairs, recently welcomed the Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships (NCS) — formerly known as Nationally Competitive Scholarships — to its division of 17 departments and programs.

The NCS office is staffed by Assistant Director, Joanie Andruss and Faculty Director, Dr. Scott Collier. An 11-member, Provost appointed, advisory board assists with policy-making.

Concerning the advisory board and the NCS process Collier stated, “Joanie and I started with establishing an NCS Board comprised of Faculty, Staff and Administrators from all over campus, then set out to put some processes down to better organize the advertising, interest, application, and interview processes.”

According to its website, the mission of the NCS office is to work with the Appalachian Community to “recruit and support students and recent alumni for nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships. This is achieved with outreach, mentorship, and advising throughout the entire application and selection process.”

Andruss shared that, NCS awards, such as the Fulbright Student Awards, Boren Awards, and Gilman, among others, are externally funded opportunities to pursue language study, master’s study, teaching, research, and other creative endeavors that enrich and build upon academic experiences.

Applying for NCS awards provides numerous advantages for each applicant, regardless of the award outcome. Andruss explained, “In the field of fellowship advising, the emphasis is not on ‘winners’ or ‘losers,’ only award recipients and transformative learning outcomes that result from the advising and application process for each individual.”

This rang true for recent Appalachian graduate and Fulbright recipient, Caroline Webb, who stated, “Applying for a Fulbright Scholarship was one of the best decisions I made during undergrad,” she shared." “The staff at NCS was extremely supportive, and I encourage anyone who is even thinking about applying to reach out! The application process is long, but also one of the most transformative experiences I have had at Appalachian State.”

Andruss explained that NCS opportunities inspire students to consider unexpected paths and possibilities. “In pursuit of this, NCS helps students weave what are seemingly unrelated threads of their identity, skills, past accomplishments, and future goals into a cohesive, compelling, and tangible plan. At the heart of this work is student learning and development.”

In addition to one-on-one advising and application support for students, the NCS office offers workshops tailored to specific courses, events, or groups, including writing workshops and class presentations about NCS opportunities and how to apply. NCS also offers faculty and staff outreach to build awareness of scholarship and support opportunities for students and recent graduates.

“Since many of these fellowships recognize leadership, being a team player, and forward-thinking amongst other skills, NCS’s next step is to reach incoming students by involving them early in research and to help them understand the research process,” Collier stated. 

“This will help our students become connected with mentors early on in their academic careers to help them progress through their degree with a better understanding of the faculty and research side of our campus. The skills and knowledge a student acquires with faculty-led research are transferable to their next steps such as interviews for professional schools or a company position.”

Dr. Mark Ginn, vice provost for undergraduate education, stated, “The Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships is a natural fit for University College. One of the primary focuses of University College is to enrich the academic experiences of students by supporting programs like academic civic engagement, student research, common reading, and our University Forum Lecture series.”

“The type of opportunities that Nationally Competitive Scholarships offer our students, and recent alumni provide that enrichment of the academic experience in a different, but equally high impact, way,” Ginn stated.

By Terri Lockwood

About Nationally Competitive Scholarships

Nationally Competitive Scholarships (NCS) works with the Appalachian community to recruit and support students for nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships, including those that support research, teaching and critical language learning. This is achieved with outreach, mentorship and advising throughout the entire application and selection process. NCS is committed to helping undergraduate and graduate students find ways to connect their Appalachian education to their future endeavors through scholarship opportunities. Learn more at

About University College

Formed in 2007, University College consists of the university’s general education program, faculty and staff support, and co-curricular programming and support – all designed to support the work of students both inside and outside the classroom. All students at Appalachian begin their education in University College and benefit from its programs until they graduate. Learn more at

About Appalachian State University

As the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

Collier and Andruss
Published: Jul 18, 2019 4:26pm