More than 100 prospective students converged on Eastern Mennonite University last weekend — an inaugural Scholarship Weekend coupled with the traditional annual Honors Weekend. They came from as close as Harrisonburg and as far away as Oregon, representing 16 states and a multitude of interests and enthusiasms for what their future might bring.
In addition to two full-tuition Yoder Scholarships, approximately 90 students also interviewed or auditioned with scholarship committees within several academic departments.
- After submitting an essay, prospective teachers met with education faculty to talk about their goals and inspirations to make an impact in education.
- Before their interviews, prospective students planning to major in mechanical or computer engineering submitted a reference letter and responded to a prompt asking for reflection on how the program intersected with their values and long-term interests.
- Musicians who do not plan to be music majors auditioned for a variety of scholarships. Awards will be made to students participating in vocal ensembles Emulate, Chamber Singers and University Choir, and instrumental groups Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Pep Band and the orchestra.
- Invited students interviewed for selection into the EMU STEM Scholars Engaging in Local Problems (SSELP) program, which provides financial aid up to $10,000 to academically talented students with demonstrated financial need who will pursue employment, service or continued education in high-need STEM fields regionally and nationwide.
- Students who had submitted promising portfolios of photography, videography and/or digital media work were invited to interview with the Visual and Communication Arts Department faculty.
A big welcome on campus
Campus tours, meals, workshops for parents and opportunities to interact with current students, faculty, staff and alumni were scheduled.
“The weekend provided students from around the United States with a close-up view of what it might be like to be a part of the EMU community,” said Director of Admissions Matt Ruth. “Having such a talented group of prospective students on campus definitely makes everyone more conscious of what a tremendously rich and diverse place this is.”
Ruth was helped by a large team of EMU supporters — from current students who hosted overnight stays to alumni speakers and several parents of current students who met with visiting parents.
Yoder Scholar Anisa Leonard, a sophomore social work major from Nairobi, Kenya, organized housing and led dinner-time activities. As an Exec Royal Ambassador, she spent most of the weekend giving campus tours.
“I loved getting to meet all the new students and seeing some familiar faces,” she said. “A lot of the students asked questions which were major specific about what they can expect from professors or in the classroom.”
Alumni highlight faculty, small size, deep discussions
Alumni Benjamin Bergey ’11, nearing the conclusion of his doctoral work in music at James Madison University, and Jessica Sarriot ‘11, a first-year graduate student at Princeton University, shared their EMU experiences with prospective honors students.
Bergey chose EMU for several reasons, including its “holistic learning environment in and out of the classroom,” the “amazing faculty who are quality professors but also mentors and friends,” and the small size.
“It’s large enough to have an array of excellent programs, but small enough that students can participate in many of them with room to create other experiences,” he told students.
Sarriot, who was raised in three different countries as a “Third Culture Kid,” talked about how her peacebuilding and development degree (she also minored in pre-law and political studies) prepared her for four years of international and national development work, followed by an intense seven-month research project in which she explored community organizing practices by interviewing 60 community leaders in Colombia, Mauritania, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq.
Her graduate studies at Princeton are fully funded.
“When I think of my four years on campus, the times I remember the best were times I was actively engaging the two questions at the center of my being: How do I do justice and who is God?” she said. “…If you are holding some profound questions in your head and heart, there will be professors, mentors, classmates and an ethos at this institution that will allow you to explore those questions, that will enrich and nurture your process of answering them, and that will stay with you.”