As director of the Office of Fellowships and Awards, Nick Petzak has worked with thousands of students at Oberlin College. During that time, he has found that many students are faced with a similar challenge. Find out how Petzak and his office address this challenge in this installment of Who Am I?
Full Name: Nick Petzak
Job title? Director
How many years at Oberlin? 10
What does your job entail? I support applications from Oberlin students to major national and international awards programs. If the application requires an institutional nomination or college support in some way, my office administers the process, and I help students all the way through, from finding opportunities to negotiating offers.
What have you found to be the biggest challenge for students with the application process? No one likes to write personal statements. No one. But the first draft is the most difficult, so I spend a lot of time urging students to “just write something” to see what they have to say.
What do you enjoy most about your work? I work with students from every department and major in the college and conservatory, so there is always something to learn. I love the variety of projects and ideas and enthusiasm that I encounter every day.
I would imagine that you have assisted many students over the years with awards and fellowships. How many would you say? Thousands. Conservatively, between two and three thousand have submitted applications in the last decade.
How can students learn about the awards and fellowships available to them? [Lists can be found on] the Office of Fellowships and Awards website. The office will send announcements about upcoming deadlines, workshops, and information meetings throughout the year, and students can always make an appointment if they have any questions.
Favorite place in Oberlin and why? My new favorite place to walk is around the city reservoir on Hamilton Street. The view is amazing and there are ducks.
Favorite childhood memory? I grew up in Idaho, so my favorite memories are set in the mountains. A lot of them come in the winter. The air on a clear, cold day seemed pretty magical.
Best vacation ever and why? My wife and I spent three weeks in Italy the year before our first child was born. I learned to love gelato. Sooo great.
Any recent achievements you would like to tell us about? I caught and released an arctic grayling in the Togiak National Wildlife Preserve in Alaska last summer. That was something of a fly fisherman’s dream come true.
Hobbies? Too many to list, but I would rather be fishing.
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