Director, Office for Nationally Competitive Scholarships
When a UNT student wants to find out about applying for a nationally competitive scholarship, James Duban is the person with the answers.
As director of UNT’s Office for Nationally Competitive Scholarships, Duban schedules orientation meetings to provide information about the Rhodes, Harry S. Truman and other prestigious scholarships. He assists students when they have questions about filling out applications. He reviews their personal statements, research essays and plan-of-study documents for the applications.
Certain scholarship foundations, such as the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, choose semifinalists and finalists for the scholarships and invite them to regional and national interviews. Universities must nominate and endorse students for these scholarships.
Screening committees, consisting of UNT faculty and led by Duban, read the applications and invite the most promising candidates to on-campus interviews. The screening committees then decide whom to nominate to represent UNT at state and regional levels of competition.
When students are chosen as nominees or finalists, Duban guides them through practice for interviews before the scholarship committees. He also assists any student who must appear before a scholarship committee, even if the scholarship isn’t one that requires applicants to be endorsed by their universities.
Duban may work with a student for months on a scholarship application.
Laura Howe-Martin (’01), who received a $25,000 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study in England for the 2001-02 academic year, says Duban is critical to so many UNT students winning national scholarships.
“In my case, he prepped me from start to finish,” she says. “I would not have been competitive without his weekly guidance through the application and interview process. He would edit several drafts of application essays, hold weekly practice interviews and even help you figure out what to wear to make the best impression. I still use those skills today.”
Duban, who has directed the Office for Nationally Competitive Scholarships since it was established in 1993, says it’s wonderful to help students “reach the outer limits of their potential.”
“I enjoy that undertaking every day of my life,” he says.