Information session scheduled tonight
Dec. 10, 2007
By George Mauzy
The Athens campus will host its third annual Appalachian Scholars information session for high school students and parents at 7 p.m. today in the Baker University Center Ballroom. Organizers will outline the program's requirements and answer questions.
In anticipation of tonight's event, Outlook asked Associate Provost for Appalachian Access and Enrichment Programs Richard Greenlee to share his thoughts about the program. But first, some background.
The Appalachian Scholars award, now in its second year, is a need-based, renewable four-year scholarship award valued at $10,000 each year. It includes an annual book stipend and participation in a yearly leadership seminar.
The university has 20 Appalachian Scholars on five campuses, including 12 on the Athens campus and two on each regional campus except Lancaster, which is not in one of Ohio's 29 Appalachian counties. This fall's class of 10 recipients was chosen from more than 150 applicants.
Last year's Appalachian Scholars information session, the first large-scale public event held in the new University Center, attracted more than 200 people. A similar crowd is expected tonight.
The Eastern campus will host its info session at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Shannon Hall. The Chillicothe and Southern campuses have already held their sessions, and one is expected to be scheduled on the Zanesville campus in January.
Why is the Appalachian Scholars program important?
It demonstrates the university's commitment to families and communities in the 29-county region by helping high school students attain a college education.
The program teaches students and their families how to navigate the educational experience. It promotes economical sustainability and social mobility by providing the students with an education and developing their leadership qualities.
In the classroom, Appalachian Scholars add to the diversity by sharing their experiences of growing up in the region with other students and dispelling many of the myths about Appalachian people that are portrayed on television.
What have been some of the program's highlights?
First of all, I am pleased that the students have really done well in and out of the classroom and have taken advantage of every academic support system at the university. They have been extremely motivated and have shown that they will go above and beyond the program's minimum requirements.
Recent highlights include the students' volunteer work at the Federal Valley Resource Center in Stewart, which they made a presentation about at the Appalachian Teaching Project in Washington, D.C., a couple of weeks ago before more than 150 people. Their presentation was as fine as any of the other 13 presentations by institutions located in Appalachia. During the D.C. trip, they were able to tour the national monuments, and a representative of Congressman Charlie Wilson's office spent some time talking with them about how the U.S. Legislature works.
Another recent highlight was meeting author Jeff Biggers, who wrote the book "United States of Appalachia: How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture and Enlightenment to America," which was a book the scholars read. The book explains how Appalachian people have impacted the world after they left the region, and it really engaged the students. They were excited to have the chance to meet him.
What have been the biggest challenges?
I'm happy to say there haven't been any major challenges so far. Like all students, some of them have been challenged by difficult courses, but that is the case at all great institutions. Other inherent challenges are overcoming limited financial resources, inadequate preparation for college and the pressure of being an independent college student for the first time.
What changes do you hope to see in the program in the future?
We are in the process of planning the junior and senior years of the program. Eventually, we want every student to do a research project with a faculty member and present it at a professional conference. We also want to expand the leadership opportunities presented to them and continue bringing in quality guest speakers who educate them on a variety of topics.
For more information on the Appalachian Scholars program, visit www.ohio.edu/diversity/appalachianscholars/forms.cfm or call the Office for Diversity at 740-593-9376.