Mentoring First-Generation African Students During the Graduate Application Process

Mentoring Project

Project Description

Purdue team members will assist 3 prospective students with various aspects of the application process, including creating a CV, assist with identifying specific programs to apply to, guidance on how to reach out to prospective advisors, brainstorming and editing application essays, and conducting mock interviews.

Who Can Apply

First-generation students from South Africa who have already completed their Honours or Masters degrees.

How To Apply

Submit your most recent scores (transcript), 2) CV with your all the relevant experience and list of degrees and accomplishments, 3) and a short (2-3 page) paper on your personal and professional goals. When writing your personal goals, remember that the team wants to hear about your motivation for wanting to pursue grad school and how the mentorship will be able to help you in achieving those goals.

The due date is August 23, 11:59 PM (South Africa time).

For this mentoring opportunity, please email the following

  1. Your most recent scores (transcript)

  2. CV with all the relevant experience and list of degrees and accomplishments

  3. A short double-spaced (2-3 page) paper on your personal and professional goals. When writing your personal goals, remember that the team wants to hear about your motivation for wanting to pursue grad school and how the mentorship will help you achieve your goals.

Team Members

Nowkanda Ndlovu GravaNokwanda Ndlovu Grava is a 2nd-year PhD student studying counseling psychology from Durban, South Africa. Kwanda grew up in KwaMashu, South Africa and completed her BA at UNISA. She has used her experience as a first-generation college student to help mentor over 20 other first-generation students in South Africa through her work with Intsikelelo. Kwanda’s research interests center on indigenous knowledge systems in South Africa, particularly as they relate to healing, family systems, and community upliftment.

Dr. CaseDr. Case’s research uses social justice and systems theory lenses to investigate the nonacademic, ecological, and sociopolitical factors that affect youth development, especially educational preparation. In particular, Dr. Case studies how families, schools, and community-based organizations can work together to prepare lower-income students and students of color for higher education and how colleges and universities can support these same students after they have matriculated. Her current projects  focus on evaluating community-based youth development programs for their effectiveness at preparing students for educational persistence and examining how school-community-university partnerships can be leveraged to fill gaps in youth preparation.

Contact the team 

Why Purdue?

Over the years, Purdue has been widely recognized in the areas of innovation, academics and best value.  

In fact, in September of 2020, the Purdue Graduate School was ranked 5th Most Innovative School in the U.S. by US News and World Report. And, in July 2020, Purdue was recognized again as a top public university that provides an outstanding educational return on investment, ranking 4th when compared to the top 50 public institutions in the United States. 

Our Graduate School offers 10 Academic colleges and a wide variety of competitive graduate programs. Many of those programs are recognized worldwide as top ranked Master’s and PhD programs. 

Purdue’s main campus offers over 160 graduate majors. So, whether you are beginning your graduate level studies or continuing to build your knowledge base, Purdue offers options to support nearly every academic path, including certificates, non-degree and online options, as well as licensures.    

Tips For Applying to Grad School

  • Think about letters of recommendations early and make sure that they are from professors that can speak of talents and readiness for grad school. Additionally, your recommender should be able to speak of your experience.

  • Research any requirements related to entrance tests (e.g., GRE, GMAT, TOEFL etc) relevant to your program of study.

  • Prepare your Statement of Purpose early and ask feedback.
    • Remember a Statement of Purpose is typically about 500 words and explains your interest in undertaking or continuing graduate study; your research interests, and the reasons you want to study at a particular institution, as well as your professional plans and career goals.
    • Before submitting your statement of purpose, be sure to have at least two different people review your content flow and check for errors. You want your submission to be error free and reflect well on your ability to communicate. Your institution’s writing lab can be a great help throughout the application process.
  • Note your application deadline. Your application deadline will be specific to the program.
  • Prepare and submit your application on time. Give yourself time to review your application materials and get feedback from mentors. Do not wait until the night of the deadline to start uploading required documents. Your application may be rejected if you miss the deadline by even a few minutes.