The Lincoln Scholar’s Program at Centre College is designed for exceptional students who aspire to pursue lives of work and service to change the world for the better. This summer, 10 rising sophomores, who comprise the inaugural class of Lincoln Scholars, participated in enrichment experiences unique to the program.
During their time at Centre, each Lincoln Scholar participates in three structured and fully funded summer enrichment experiences. Incoming scholars do a series of activities, including an experience with North Carolina Outward Bound, prior to matriculation.
Rising sophomores and juniors select two of three themes: With Outstretched Hands—Serving Humankind; Engaging Big Ideas and Challenges; and Grit and Tenacity in the Making.
Through these hands-on experiences, the scholars develop compassion, empathy and new and broader perspectives. The scholars also examine issues from practical, as well as systemic angles and test their self-reliance and individual mettle.
Summer program partners include Safe Passage in Guatemala, Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC) in Costa Rica and National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Alaska and Canada.
This year, four Scholars traveled to Costa Rica and worked for five weeks at FIMRC, providing medical care to an underserved population, specifically Nicaraguan refugees. The students worked in the medical clinic, soup kitchen, child care facility and helped run mental health activities for the community.
“As a volunteer in the clinic, I assumed several different roles during my five week stay,” Rachel Cooper ’20 said.
At the clinic, Cooper worked in the pharmacy and checked in patients, but her favorite place to volunteer was in the examination room.
“I gained hands-on medical experience,” she explained. “The most important part of my service learning experience was meeting the patients and learning their stories.”
Cooper learned about the immigration and health policies implemented in Costa Rica and how they affect the FIMRC clinic.
“Through the Lincoln Scholar’s theme for the trip ‘Engaging Big Ideas and Challenges,’ I pushed myself to understand the complexities of policies and their implementation,” she shared. “The Lincoln Scholars Program gives me the opportunities to go out into the world to pursue my passion for making positive change.”
Working with NOLS, one scholar was in Alaska and spent four weeks sea-kayaking in the seas off southern Alaska. Another scholar, Jack Perryman ’20, traveled to the Yukon Territory and climbed glaciers, canoed on mountain streams and backpacked for a month.
“I was sent on the course with the hopes of ‘developing my grit and tenacity’ as a leader,” Perryman said. “Every day was a series of lessons in tenacity and perseverance. I learned so much about pushing myself to the extreme no matter the circumstance.”
Perryman considers himself fortunate to be a Lincoln Scholar and have opportunities like this in the summer enrichment program.
“During my time out in the wilds of the Yukon, an austere landscape that yields a contemplative mind, I spent lots of time considering what it meant to be out there as a Lincoln Scholar,” he explained. “In a literal way, it was important for me to have a sort of ‘frontier’ experience, of the type similar in Lincoln’s boyhood in Indiana.
“It was so easy to see out there how Lincoln came to develop his characteristic strength, fortitude and perseverance,” he added. “Additionally, I think I’ve come back a stronger, more considerate, more well-rounded leader because of my NOLS experience.”
The remaining four scholars worked in Guatemala during a four-week opportunity with Safe Passage, an educational organization located next to the Guatemala City garbage dump, serving the people who make their living there.
Makda Mehari ’20 had the opportunity to work with women in the Adult Literacy Program as part of the Safe Passage experience.
“I worked exclusively with mothers over the course of four weeks,” she said. “These women ranged from 21 to 64, and all had a connection to the garbage dump.”
The work Mehari did with Safe Passage goes along with her life-long dream to make a change in the world.
“I was raised in a family that is constantly involved in non-profit and volunteer work, and I knew from a young age that I wanted to make significant change when I grew up,” she shared. “I am so lucky to be part of the inaugural class of the Lincoln Scholars Program. It has changed my life in ways I cannot explain, and I look forward to seeing how I continue to change as a Lincoln Scholar.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
August 29, 2017