By Dr. Laurie King, Professor of Applied Ethics
Every fall and spring semester, the Applied Ethics Institute awards scholarships to students enrolled in our PHI 1600 Applied Ethics course. We have been awarding these scholarships for years, giving out $1000.00 divided between five different students each semester. We also try to make sure students from each campus are awarded at least one scholarship each semester.
A few years ago I was “voluntold” to be in charge of this endeavor. Our participation was down, and we wanted to generate some more enthusiasm for our scholarships. By streamlining the application process, and by really trying to make sure all of our students are aware of the opportunities, we did indeed greatly increase the number of students applying. That is a credit, I think, to the awesome group of full time and adjunct ethics professors here at SPC.
On the one hand, I was delighted we were getting so many applications. Other the other hand, it is now primarily up to me to sort through all of these applications. Every semester, I go through a progression of anticipation about the scholarships. At first I just hope we can continue the level of participation we have worked to get in the program. Then, as the deadline approaches, I begin to dread the very long task of reading dozens of applications.
But, that isn’t the end of the story. Actually, it is usually just the beginning. Every semester as I start to go through the applications, I am just amazed at how many really talented, smart and grateful students we have. I read their short essays, and invariably I get sad that we don’t have more money to give out. There are always many deserving students, and we can only award five scholarships.
After letting all of the students know the outcome of their application, I then usually get very nice thank you e-mails back from the winners. I received one last year from a woman who just was so happy because she had never been awarded anything like that ever in her life. She came back to college late in life, and was as happy about just being recognized as she was about the monetary award. I even get e-mails back from a few students who didn’t win the scholarship, but thank me just for the opportunity. I truly think that speaks volumes about someone’s character.
My take away from being the “scholarship” person in our department is:
(a) If you apply for something and don’t get it, keep trying. You never know just how close you were in what was probably a competitive arena.
(b) Regardless if you win or lose, a thank you note means more than you will ever know, but a “thank you” from someone who isn’t the winner is rare, and you will most certainly be remembered.
(c) If you ever are asked to help administer a scholarship program, there will be a few headaches along the way, but in the end, the experience is a positive one that will renew your belief in our future leaders.