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New scholarship aims to attract strong students

September 16, 2011

Monmouth College gives out an enormous amount of financial aid. Approximately 99 percent of students receive grants from the college. While in years past that grant has only paid for a portion of a student’s tuition, the 2011-2012 school year is the first where several students will receive the largest merit scholarship the college has offered in its history, the $25,000 Midwest Scholar Award.

“The Midwest Scholars program is a scholarship designed to attract, distinguish and reward high-achieving students who have performed at an exceptional level during their high school years,” said Omar Correa, Vice President for Enrollment Management, in an email exchange due to a scheduling conflict. “Our goal is to recognize those students who have excelled academically and encourage them to continue their education at Monmouth College.”

The $25,000 award is renewable for up to three years for a total of $100,000 in scholarship money. With tuition, housing and a meal plan costing at least $36,000, the Midwest Scholars Award pays for at most 69 percent of yearly costs for the seven freshmen who received it. Funding for the scholarships comes from alumni and other donors to the college.

“These donors have a strong desire to see our academic excellence continue and to help provide our students with a quality education at affordable prices,” said Correa.

Seven students were granted this scholarship this year. Normally, the school will budget for five.

One of the seven, freshman Nick Olson was already looking at Monmouth before he heard about the scholarship and said receiving it helped seal the deal for Monmouth over the University of Illinois, Springfield.

“I really couldn’t believe it when I found out about it,” he said. “I just jumped on this. Going in, I had no idea I’d stand a chance.”

The opportunity also allowed him to participate in the SOFIA program prior to classes. There, he worked with professor Chris Fasano on building a detector to track X-rays, such as those that may be created with lightning strikes.

For freshman Mackenzie Mahler though, her award serves as a motivation for her collegiate years.

“I feel very honored,” Mahler said. “I feel like I’ll have to work hard to uphold that image of the Midwest Scholar.”

Already at Monmouth, Mahler has joined the Alpha Xi Delta women’s fraternity and has taken up an internship position with the Office of Communications, where she has already written a press release about planking at Monmouth College.

On the other hand, some students, like freshman Brianna Thompson, were not interested in the financial aspect of the award but, rather, prestige.

“I didn’t really need the money from it, but the title is nice,” said Thompson, the daughter of Wendy Thompson-Dawson, assistant professor in the department of political economy and commerce. “I think they gave the money to someone else is which fine with me because I didn’t need it.”

Thompson also participated in this summer’s SOFIA program, working with sophomore Sarah DeGraw and Howard Dwyer, associate professor in the department of mathematics and computer science, on strikes and lockouts in Major League Baseball.

Though the seven are aware of the other winners, they have not yet formally all met together. According to Correa, most of the students have already joined the college’s honors program.

“I’m excited,” said Mahler. “I’m excited to meet the other scholars.”

Andrew Drea

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