Members of the 2015 class of Wilson Scholars will soon arrive at Appalachian State University.
Appalachian’s leadership and service scholarship is also the university’s most prestigious full-ride, merit-based scholarship. This year’s scholars are Samuel P. Hines, a Cary Academy graduate, Sophie K. Kahn, a Chapel Hill High School graduate, Madeline G. Hamiter, a graduate of Mitchell Community College’s Collaborative College for Technology and Leadership, and Alia K. Dahlan, who graduated from the N.C. School of Science and Math.
They are among more than 1,800 applicants this year for the university’s prestigious full-ride, merit-based scholarship, which recognizes a student’s leadership and service activities and interests.
These students will begin their collegiate career at Appalachian by first spending a week on an academic trip to Paris, France, in August. They also will participate with First Year Seminar classes in reading and discussing this year’s common reading selection, “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier.”
When fall semester classes begin, the Wilson Scholars will embark on a personalized educational experience in and outside the classroom designed in partnership with their faculty director. As a Wilson Scholar, the students learn to incorporate their passions with their life and career goals.
They participate in specially designed seminars, engage in international experiences and design capstone projects. Each year, Wilson Scholars also focus on an area of community and self-discovery as they pursue a Certificate in Civic Engagement as part of their education at Appalachian. The certificate functions like a “minor” that gives students academic recognition for significant participation in service projects over the course of their college education. Internships, research and study abroad are also part of the Wilson Scholars experience.
Members of the inaugural class of Wilson Scholars, who are now sophomores at Appalachian, are Sarah Aldridge from Concord, Juliet Irving from Batesburg, South Carolina, Emma Labovitz from Salisbury and Lily Shaw from Chapel Hill. They have a wealth of experience already to share with the incoming scholars, which is also applicable to all incoming freshmen.
“My biggest advice is don’t be afraid to try something new,” Labovitz said. “College is about having novel experiences, meeting new people and stepping outside your comfort zone. It is through these experiences you can find your passions and can use the rest of college to explore these passions.”
Aldridge expressed similar sentiments. “My main advice would be to make sure you use your four years on campus to try as many new things as possible and explore as many of your passions as you can,” she said. “After one year, it’s incredible to look back and see the things I was able to do, not only because of the scholarship, but also just because of how wonderful Appalachian is, and how many opportunities there are to try new things. I can tell that these four years are going to go so fast, and I want to experience as many things as I can while I’ve got the chance!”
“Follow your passion wherever it guides you,” Irving said. “It’s important to have hopes and dreams and the scholarship helps us on that path, but we have to have the courage to follow our dreams.”
Lily Shaw urged the new Wilson Scholars to follow their dreams.
“This past year has taught me that organization and passion are all I need to turn my dreams into reality,” she said. “I used to think that internships were only allotted to upperclassmen, yet this summer I had an internship with Blue Cross Blue Shield. I had also hoped to travel to Costa Rica, yet thought that it would be too expensive. At the end of this summer, I get to do turtle conservation there without paying a penny for it, thanks to the program’s experiential learning fund.”
$14,347 per-year award for tuition, fees, book rental, and room and board for four years
3.45 minimum grade point average to renew the scholarship
$2,500 annual stipend to pursue academic and service projects
“After one year, it’s incredible to look back and see the things I was able to do, not only because of the scholarship, but also just because of how wonderful Appalachian is…”
– Sarah Aldridge, an inaugural Wilson Scholar
The Wilson Scholarship was established in 2013 with a $3 million gift from Brad and Carole Wilson of Raleigh, who are both 1975 graduates of the university. Brad Wilson is CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and Carole Wilson is a member of the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees. To honor the Wilsons for their commitment, the honors and student leadership and residential hall complex on campus was named the Brad and Carole Wilson Honors and Engagement Community.
Wilson Scholars are provided with a summer Experiential Learning Fund (ELF) to pursue service projects related to their passions. 2015 summer activities for the inaugural scholars are: