PERSPECTIVE: Host Scholars of Excellence, invest in Union’s future

Russell Richardson, business management major, speaks to prospective students at the Scholars of Excellence Banquet in the Carl Grant Events Center last year. | Photo by MiKalla Cotton
Russell Richardson, business management major, speaks to prospective students at the Scholars of Excellence Banquet in the Carl Grant Events Center last year. | Photo by MiKalla Cotton
Russell Richardson, business management major, speaks to prospective students at the Scholars of Excellence Banquet in the Carl Grant Events Center last year. | Photo by MiKalla Cotton

High school seniors got a small taste of college life and competed for university-sponsored scholarships this weekend, the first of two Scholars of Excellence Weekends for the year.

Each scholar had to participate in a personal interview, a hot topic discussion and a book discussion on C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man.

Students across campus volunteered to host these prospective students in their dorms for the night and guide them across campus to their various meeting places the next day. One of my roommates and I each hosted a scholar, so I was able to talk to both girls throughout the weekend about their experience.

Madde Ely, a senior from Knoxville, has already decided to attend Union this fall. She plans on majoring in biochemistry and minoring in theology and missions. Her friend’s older sister toured Union in the past and loved it, but didn’t feel like it was where God wanted her to be. However, she encouraged her to visit, and Ely instantly fell in love with the school, she said.

Mattie Clemmons, our other guest, is a high school senior from Florence, Alabama. Union is one of her top three schools, but she hasn’t officially decided yet where she is going. She hopes to major in social work with a minor in Spanish or counseling. She found Union through a few cross-country friends who are currently attending Union.

Both girls were very excited to be on campus for the evening. They enjoyed a dinner with their parents and a speech from President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver. Later that night, they both attended a concert at Barefoots Joe and mingled with students and scholars.

That night, I asked them how they felt about Union so far.

“It’s been really good,” Ely said. “I was worried it was going to be really intimidating coming in, but everyone’s been really friendly and open and made things a lot less scary.”

“I like getting to stay in the dorms,” Clemmons added. “It feels like it could be home.”

During the evening, I was able to introduce both girls to the girl I shared a dorm with when I was a scholar myself. I encouraged them to mingle and get to know some of the other scholars, as I first met my current roommate and best friend during the competition day. I introduced them to professors, Life Group leaders and students in their prospective areas of study.

I can’t emphasize enough how great the experience of hosting a Scholars of Excellence student is. It’s a fantastic way to minister to prospective students, to help them determine if Union is the place for them. Anyone who is interested in hosting a student, any time of the year, is encouraged to visit the Office of Undergraduate Admissions (across from Barefoots Joe) and let them know that you would like to host.

Even for Union students who won’t be hosting next weekend, I encourage you to get out of the dorm and talk to the visiting competitors. Pray for them and their future college career. Share your stories, talk about your professors and build the hype for our school. Many of these students are the future of Union. Make yourself a part of their early story so that one day, when they’re hosting their own Scholars of Excellence student, they can tell them about you!

Image courtesy of MiKalla Cotton|Cardinal & Cream