By Jaci Wendel
The leadership scholarship, previously given to two incoming freshmen, will now be expanded and given to six members of the class of 2021. This is a full-tuition scholarship that is awarded to incoming freshmen who continuously demonstrate in their lives the leadership qualities of courage, humanity, justice, temperance, wisdom and transcendence.
Director of the DeSales Experience Chad Serfass said that the decision to expand the scholarship recipients from two to six was influenced by the number of students that were applying for this scholarship each year.
“With any scholarship like that, you put it out, you don’t know what kind of response you’re going to get from students,” said Serfass. “You might get five [applications], you might get 105. That first year, we had around 217 applications for the scholarship, and the second year we came back and doubled that.”
Because there will be six scholarships given this year, Serfass would like to give the scholarships to six different students from each of the academic divisions at DeSales.
“We are moving in a five-year plan where we’re looking to increase our undergrad from about 1,600 to about 1,800 students,” said Serfass. “We have [five] divisions of academics so we thought that one from each division would be a good way to market [DeSales], a good way to bring students in and really expand on the program and expand on our undergrad population.”
Beginning with the class of 2018 in the ‘13- ‘14 academic year, this scholarship was first started in a similar vein as Character U and the DeSales Experience, mainly as a way to “…define ourselves, who we are as DeSales University and a school of character.”
Serfass said that not only do stand-out applicants participate in some kind of leadership or service, but they also do so consistently in various areas of their lives.
“We have a lot of medical studies students that are participating in their local hospitals, working [in] a lot of homeless shelters… and trying to better their community,” Serfass said. “They’re not only going for an afternoon for like two hours, they’re going on a consistent basis, they’re going on Christmas Eve, they’re working at shelters throughout the year. It’s not just a once and done thing for them, it’s a part of their life.”
Last year’s recipients, Gabby Bruno and Amanda Becker, really caught the attention of Serfass and Dr. Gregg Amore, associate dean of students for student development who is another member of the scholarship panel.
“You could tell their personality and their character through their writing,” said Serfass, referring to the 500-wordor-less essays that students are required to write in the application process. “Gabby was an athlete, Amanda worked in healthcare… Gabby was actually the first person that we interviewed out of the 25, and I think we all kind of sat around after she left and said, ‘Okay, she set the bar pretty high for the rest of the applicants.’
“At the end of the day, we did have hard decisions to make because all 25 were all fantastic applicants in their own right. It wasn’t just a collective of students that were saying the same things over and over again,” Serfass added. “But at the end of the day, we all had sat around and said, ‘Yeah, I think it’s definitely Gabby and Amanda.’”
Already, Serfass and Amore have received around 30 applications for the leadership scholarship from potential incoming freshmen, with the application only having gone out on Sept. 1. Serfass expects to see that number explode closer to the end of November.
“They’re due on Dec. 1, so normally Thanksgiving holiday is when the students go home and start writing, and then right when we get back in December they all come flooding in,” said Serfass.