I recently returned from a trip to Ethiopia, where my good friends Iwnetim (Tim) and Loza organized a summer school for undergraduate students to learn about graduate school abroad. Both the summer school and the trip as a whole were incredible experiences that I enjoyed and learned from immensely, and describing them is probably worth a separate post.

One of my key takeaways from talking to Ethiopian undergraduate students was the accessibility gap in learning the graduate school admissions process for international schools. The students were eager and motivated to learn about the process but had limited resources for learning more about it. Their instructors typically had not studied abroad, research opportunities are limited, and most universities do not have centers to help students apply to grad school. The most reliable information source is often networks of friends and family who were able to study abroad. Furthermore, many students had misperceptions of the cost of American grad schools, not realizing that a PhD is fully funded with a stipend (a common misperception in America as well).

I am convinced that many of these students would excel in top-ranked graduate programs if given the chance. I am also convinced that we need students from all walks of life contributing to solve our planet’s toughest challenges. Thus, in a very small act of leveling the playing field, I’m posting some of my graduate school application materials here for anyone to access. I won’t discuss the process itself—–others have written about it here, here, here, and here—and it’s been a while since I went through it anyway. But I hope these serve as an additional resource for aspiring graduate students who are still learning about the process.

Stanford personal statement

NSF GRFP personal statement, research proposal