This is the first time I use Stack Exchange. Here are my backgrounds. I am a first-generation poor male immigrant from China to America. None of my members have education beyond middle school. So they cannot help me. Because I was 19 years old, I was too old to go to high school. I attended a community college, transfered to Berkeley to study nuclear physics. I am now a Physics PhD student at MIT. I am now a naturalized U.S. citizen. I applied for all fellowships that I am elligible such as NSF, DOE CSGF, DOE SSGF, Hertz, Soros, Ford, SMART, and NDSEG. I get rejected by Hertz for two cycles and NSF, Soros, DOE CSGF so far. I still have 5 fellowship application pending (DOE CSGF and DOE SSGF are not submitted yet).
I just wonder how to win (or even just get honorable mention or even just move to the interview) these fellowships. I have similar experience when I applied for REU. I applied to about 20 REUs and got an only one REU because the PI was Chinese. I suspect there are connections requirement for some fellowships, which I obviously do not have. Do you think you have any suggestion for my future career in academia if I end up with not getting any fellowships. I also attach the comments of my reviewers from NSF GRFP here. NSF GRFP Comments. Thank you for your inputs.