is different than undergraduate. In undergrad, your grade point average and SAT score can get you a scholarship at your college. In grad school, your grades and test scores aren’t going to automatically get you money. The schools are not going to seek you out. Once the money they have to give runs out, it’s gone, no matter how qualified you are.”
USING CONNECTIONS TO UNCOVER CASH
Jamiliyah Gilliam breezed through undergraduate and graduate schools on scholarships and, at 24, is studying for her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago on a fellowship. While stellar grades helped her secure money for college, great connections have always gotten her more.
Gilliam began searching for the right college when she was a sophomore in high school, spending her lunch period at the counselor’s office or searching on the Web. She planned to attend a historically black institution, but after discovering that they had few scholarships to offer, she was at a standstill. “I always thought money was going to come,” she says. “I was from a single-parent home, I worked all through high school, I graduated summa cum laude, but none of that really mattered.”
But who she knew did matter.
While at choir practice in her West Philadelphia church, a recruiter from St. Joseph’s University came by to talk to students in hopes of luring them to the campus, but Gilliam wasn’t swayed. The university offered her a partial scholarship, but that wasn’t enough to pay for its $22,000 tuition, so Gilliam called on the Rev. Brodie Mathis of Pinn Memorial Baptist Church, who had long established a relationship between his church and the predominately white, Catholic university. Mathis set
out on a campaign, talking to recruiters and financial aid officers on behalf of Gilliam. When he was done, St. Joseph’s awarded her $16,000 in scholarships.
“He was my pit bull; he got the money for me,” she says. In the fall of 1997, Gilliam began studying biology. But after one semester, she changed her major and enrolled in criminology and sociology classes taught by Patrick Carr. His enthusiasm as a new professor and her desire to explore other majors helped establish a relationship.
Gilliam graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2001 and stayed at St. Joseph’s for her master’s degree on a full-tuition scholarship from the university’s sociology department in return for working as a research assistant for professor Carr. She continued working with Carr on various studies, and when she decided to delay law school and go for her Ph.D. in urban sociology, Carr knew exactly where she should go–the University of Chicago. Her 3.9 grade point average as a graduate student got Gilliam accepted, but financial assistance was another story. Carr and his wife, both alumni of the University of Chicago, reassured Gilliam that she had everything it took to get aid.
The University of Chicago felt the same way. She was awarded a fellowship, which pays the $31,000 tuition, plus a yearly stipend of $17,000. The university also found her a nearby