Spotlight on Fatima Jebahi: Each Application is a Learning Exercise

Nov. 15, 2021
Portrait of Fatima Jebahi

Dear Graduate Students,

This month, Fatima, one of your fellow students, shares her disappointments and successes with grant writing and gives advice for a perspective shift on the process. We think you’ll appreciate her reflections.

Shelley and Bethany


Hello fellow Graduate Students!

My name is Fatima Jebahi, and I am a first-year PhD student in the department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences (SLHS). My research interests are centered around understanding how the brain processes and executes language following lesion, damage, or atrophy of language-related areas. I am specifically interested in studying those mechanisms in individuals with acquired language disorders, such as post-stroke aphasia and primary progressive aphasia.

As an international student from Lebanon, my first (and biggest) step to pursuing graduate studies was to secure funding. I submitted so many applications to organizations and funding agencies that support graduate students. All my applications were ultimately rejected. Although those applications did not get me the funding I was seeking, they were crucial for me to exercise grantsmanship writing and to gain the skills that I needed to try again. A few attempts later, I was awarded the Fulbright Foreign Student Scholarship to pursue my Master of Science degree. After that, I was granted the University Fellows Award from the Graduate College at the University of Arizona.

I realize now that receiving grants, fellowships, and scholarships is a learning process, one which I am yet to master. Even though the process is intimidating for international students like myself, the learning process is the same for any student. Like any learning experience, practice is essential. I encourage you to seize every learning opportunity that presents itself to you, for you will learn so much. What really helped me is the perspective shift, seeing each application as a learning exercise.

My advice for all fellowship/grant seekers:

  1. Get to REALLY know the specific goals and requirements of a grant/fellowship. With that knowledge, you can tailor your application so that it has all the necessary information for reviewers.
  2. Practice, practice, and practice. How? Apply, apply, and apply. This will essentially help you exercise your writing and familiarize yourself with the process of applying to grants/fellowships.
  3. View your application process as a learning experience.

I hope you find my advice helpful! Good luck!