by Mark McGowan
The NIU experience will become even more significant over the next decade for the 200 students who are chosen for the new Leaders and Scholars Program.
Beginning next fall, 20 freshmen are expected to maximize their academic lives on campus by exploring opportunities for involvement and future leadership. They also will cultivate and analyze initiatives to make the NIU experience an even more positive one for all.
Meanwhile, each year’s scholarship recipients will work as a team to identify an issue facing campus, develop strategies to overcome this concern and then present their findings to university administrators so NIU can serve its students better.
Perfect candidates are ones who are respected in and out of the classroom by their teachers and their peers and who have impacted their communities through their good works.
“Too often scholarships are so narrowly focused. This really gives those students who are great students – great people – an opportunity to be rewarded for all the things they’ve accomplished. This award looks deeper than a test score to find students who can impact the NIU campus,” said Brent Gage, assistant vice provost for enrollment services.
“We’re looking for that student who really makes a difference,” Gage added. “That’s the kind of student we want here at NIU.”
“One of the roles of a university is to help prepare our future leaders, and in this case, we’re going to be very purposeful about it,” said Vice Provost Earl “Gip” Seaver. “We’re trying to identify people very young who have good leadership abilities, and we’re going to bring them to campus to work with our leaders. To me, it’s kind of on-the-job training.”
Nominations of high school seniors are due Tuesday, Jan. 1, to NIU’s Office of Scholarship Coordination. Teachers, guidance counselors, NIU alumni and friends of the university are encouraged to put forth names.
Nominees will receive applications in the mail, which are due Friday, Feb. 1.
Each recipient will receive a $2,500 scholarship to apply toward the cost of the first year of attendance. Recipients will live on campus during their freshman year, enroll full-time both semesters and maintain good academic standing.
They also will participate in a one-day retreat prior to the fall semester, work with a mentor to ease their adjustment to college life and take a leadership course during the spring term.
“The NIU Leaders and Scholars Program is more than a scholarship program. It is an experience,” said Dana Gautcher, scholarship coordinator and financial retention advocate in the Office of Scholarship Coordination. “Students will benefit from a year’s worth of opportunities to get them involved and invested in NIU while further developing their leadership skills.”
“We’re very excited,” Seaver added. “As the parent of a Northern grad and the parent of another college student, I’d be thrilled that my student had this opportunity to get those leadership abilities.”
Gage, who brought the idea to NIU after seeing it work at other universities, said NIU also will benefit from the feedback of the Leaders and Scholars. It also provides the scholarship students with tremendous access to administrators and faculty, Gautcher said, strengthening those connections across campus.
“We have to continually provide our students a way to express to us how good of a job we’re doing. How well are we doing? We want to know,” Gage said. “We can change the culture on campus for students by students.”
Call (815) 753-4829 or visit www.scholarships.niu.edu for more information.