As fellowships go, it's the baby one. It's not the Steffenson Cannon, which I also applied for and which gives you gobs of money. This one is basically a class release -- you get paid a standard TF salary (about $10K for the academic year), but instead of teaching three classes, you only teach one. It's certainly a bit of a disappointment not to get the gobs of money, but I can apply again for that next year, and it's definitely going to be a good thing to have some extra time next year to focus on my work. There's a lot I want to get done!
Perhaps most importantly, it feels like a validation. Y'all will remember that I was wait-listed to this program -- so while I was delighted to get in, I have had some doubts...not about my abilities, but about their assessment of my abilities? Something like that. There's only one Neff awarded each year, among all the graduate students in the department who apply for it (don't really know how many that is -- I'd guess somewhere between 5 and 30 -- not such a precise guess!). So the fact that I got it -- well, it makes me feel like maybe some of the faculty are excited about my work. That's a really good thing.
On the negative side, my getting it means that some of my friends who I think are doing amazing work didn't get it. It's not a good thing having so few fellowships around. :-( I almost wish they would split this into two fellowships, each releasing you from one class. But I haven't looked into this in detail; maybe there are reasons why that wouldn't be a good idea. Not sure. The fellowship thing is complicated.
At any rate -- while there's a little part of me that's fretting about the others, I have to admit that most of me is selfishly delighted. I'd like to take the evening off to celebrate -- but I'm going to read some history instead. That's grad school, I guess...