Date of this Version
Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Spring/Summer 2017, Volume 18. Number 1.
I want to write this response as a letter to you, Lia, in part because I worked with you in helping national scholarship applicants at the University of Alabama at Birmingham but also because I know you are the kind of person who fully commits herself to the conversation at hand. What you emphasized in your essay and in all your years as a national fellowships advisor was the key importance of listening. I observed firsthand that your skill as a listener made you the successful, trailblazing, and legendary scholarships advisor that you were at UAB, focusing first and last on creating relationships with the students and understanding who they were before you decided how to steer them in the advising that came later.
Your essay captures and evidences how we can and should think about scholarship applicants. I have learned, like you, that these students often become important people in my life overall, visiting or even staying at my house, jumping with my daughters on their trampoline, sharing holidays with me, and sharing their sorrows. First at UAB, then at Eastern Kentucky University, and now at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, I too have forged bonds with these students such that they have become part of my family circle. I even, in a way, named one of my daughters after one of them, and my Lucy and I went to the Truman-winner’s wedding together.