A new year can bring forth an abundance of opportunities in a student’s life. It can be another step forward toward achieving personal and professional goals; a milestone that brings each ambitious individual one step closer to a bright future. A year can be but a singular step for most students, but not for those involved with programs like the Margaret Boyd Scholars Program (MBSP) that inspires a continuality of encouragement and engagement for women at Ohio University.
In honor of Ohio University’s first female graduate, The Margaret Boyd Scholars Program was founded in the 2013-14 Academic Year by Patti McSteen, associate dean of students for Ohio University and director of MBSP. The program is the first and only women’s scholar program at the University.
As the MBSP 2019-20 cohort neared the end of yet another successful academic year, the spring semester welcomed the newly-selected cohort of 2020-21. Alongside McSteen, an advisory board of women from various educational and professional backgrounds review the program’s applications to select the new cohort each spring. The members of the advisory board are dedicated to mentoring the new scholars and ensuring the program provides opportunities for growth for all its participants.
Associate Professor of English Dr. Carey Snyder was invited to join the advisory board in the 2019-20 Academic Year. In addition to joining the board, Snyder instructed the first-year seminar for the 2019-20 cohort.
“This year’s cohort is a diverse group of young women from across the state and the country. Their backgrounds and experiences are also diverse, but they share a spark of curiosity and an eagerness for new experiences,” Snyder said. “As a group they are ambitious but clearly want a full college experience that goes beyond a set of credentials or a degree.”
Newly-selected scholar, Jane Roche, a first-year political science pre-law major from Cleveland, Ohio said she was encouraged to apply to the program through senior scholar, Clancy Thomas, and sophomore scholar, Katie Gold, who spoke highly of their experiences in the program.
“I was immediately interested,” said Roche. “I went to an all-girls school for high school and loved the sense of community it fostered. I wanted to be part of something like that again. My high school experience made me feel empowered and I wanted to share that with others in college.”
When asked what the MBSP meant to Roche, she answered, “The MBSP means community. It means a network of young, ambitious women who lift each other up. I feel that I now have a great group of young women that I’ll have life-long connections with. It also means that I get to fully live in the tradition of Margaret Boyd, a woman whose experiences allow me to be where I am today.”
Lucy Thompson, a first-year student majoring in geography and environmental studies in the Honors Tutorial College, will also be joining the MBSP this year with Roche. Thompson is from Morgantown, West Virginia and is involved in many other organizations on campus including Women’s Ensemble, College Democrats and Student Senate Women’s Affairs Commission.
For Thompson, applying to MBSP was an opportunity for growth. “I wanted to meet more motivated, intelligent and interesting women on campus that could help me achieve goals and make connections,” said Thompson.
In addition to Snyder, Dr. Miriam Intrator, special collections librarian for rare books, was invited onto the advisory board and is helping lead the first-year seminar for the 2019-20 cohort. Intrator stated that, “being part of the MBSP and working with the new cohort of scholars is pushing me to be a better instructor and mentor.”
Intrator added that her goals as an advisor this year will be to “focus on getting the scholars thinking more deeply about both identifying and celebrating women’s contributions over time. This work includes questioning traditional institutional collecting and exhibiting practices, thinking broadly both inside and outside the box about where and how we might find evidence of women’s work, lives, voices, and experiences, and reflecting on how these findings should be presented to a broader audience as part of daily life rather than as the occasional special ‘women’s’ exhibit, book, website or whatever it may be.”
As the new cohort begins their journey in the MBSP and continues to be engaged, confident and connected leaders at the University and beyond, new scholars are encouraged to apply to the program for the upcoming year.
“I have already made amazing friends after only being part of the program for a few months. I feel so welcome and celebrated as a member of the organization, and that is incredibly special. I know this organization is going to give me so much joy as well as push me to be the best scholar and woman I can be,” said Thompson.
Get to know each newly-selected scholar by visiting the Margaret Boyd Scholars website.