Last weekend, four 2014 Scholars participated in the USPAA Scholar Summit, and we weren’t sure how to choose which Scholars to ask about their experiences. So we collected thoughts from all of them!
Grace McClure: I met scholars from other schools with whom I hope to keep in contact for many years to come. I was struck not only by the parallels between my story and theirs, but also by their vivid and beautiful uniqueness. I met writers, engineers, artists, politicians, businessmen, and community activists. But many of us shared the emotional experiences that come with being a scholar, regardless of program: the closeness of scholar families, the weight of responsibility, the drive to make our world a better place. Each of us face a world of unknowns; but we can all step into that world bravely, knowing that there are others who will step with us, arms linked and eyes wide open.
Stephen Badger: The speaker’s question reverberated around the silent lecture hall. Not a single hand went up. Was everyone stumped? Nope! Among the attendees, myself included, not one of us gestured in response to the question, “Have you ever been to Nebraska?” What a fortuitous coincidence that so many brilliant young scholars should congregate in a venue new to all, the foreign land of Omaha. These representatives from across the nation infused the whirlwind of forty-eight hours with an excitement and drive to push our respective scholars programs further and closer together.
Dhruv Narayanan: During the weekend, we exchanged ideas on evaluating potential scholarship candidates, applying for and being awarded study abroad grants, and designing student-specific leadership opportunities that allowed each scholar to pursue their own interests. During the summit, we took turns introducing the various benefits granted to scholars in our programs, from financial assistance to networking, cultural, and volunteering opportunities. I really enjoyed getting to interact with scholars from different programs, diffusing ideas that the McDermott program has employed in the past to great success (i.e. finalist weekend, Leadership Dallas), and hearing new ideas from other programs that I would love to implement for both this program and this university in the upcoming years.
Hans Ajieren: We had a number of events led by program administrators, including a very useful lesson on personal statements, but I found the discussions that I had with other scholars to be the most valuable part of the weekend. In these discussions, I was able to identify common elements across scholarship programs and learn about desired program features. Getting to hear about other scholarship programs firsthand gave me a greater appreciation for all that the McDermott Scholars Program already provides. For instance, many scholars I spoke to wished that their programs had traditions that brought different years together like our big-and-little system and the McDermott Cup. USPAA helped me recognize how unique our McDermott community is, and I am eager to find ways to make this community even stronger.