Baylor Invitation To Excellence Essay

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    01/17/2018

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    11/29/2017

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    05/23/2017

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    05/10/2017

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    04/18/2017

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    03/21/2017

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    01/22/2017

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    12/21/2016

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    12/02/2016

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  • A Bear from Waco, TX

    11/28/2016

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    09/28/2016

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    06/16/2016

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  • angie from katy, tx

    06/10/2016

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    06/06/2016

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  • Maria from Killeen, TX

    12/26/2015

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    12/16/2015

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    12/10/2015

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  • By Nikki Dabney

    Staff Writer

    Three Coppell High School seniors, Alyssa Rusch, Harini Suresh and Zeb White,  experienced the anticipation, surprise, unbelief and elation that come with receiving a full college scholarship.

    Each recipient came about his or her scholarship somewhat by chance. Rusch didn’t even know about her school, St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y., until she received an email and decided to apply on a whim.

    “After I got the letter and started looking into the school I fell in love,” Rusch said. “I think it was fate.”

    Senior Alyssa Rusch is attending St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y. She received the Presidential Scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition, room and board, and other additional fees. Rusch applied on a whim and ended up feeling it was fate to attend there. Photo by Rowan Khazendar.

    When Rusch received her scholarship letter, she felt the size of the packet, noted that it was thick, knew she got in and didn’t think much about it until later that night.

    “I read the first paragraph of the letter and then handed it to my wife,” father Frank Rusch said. “She yelled, ‘Did you read the second paragraph?!’ and then we realized what had happened and all became very excited.

    On the other hand, White always knew he wanted to attend Baylor University, his parents’ alma mater. Although it was his dream, White didn’t want to go to Baylor if it was going to be a financial burden on his family.

    He found out he received free tuition and attended a program called Invitation to Excellence in November at the university.  Six hundred students were selected based on merit and recommendations and were split up into small groups for dinner and discussion.

    After the event the attendees submitted a reflection essay and students were chosen for a free tuition scholarship. Like in White’s case, if the student already received a free tuition, the scholarship covers room and board and general fees and includes a $4,000 stipend.

    “We decided to go to [Invitation to Excellence] because those who were invited received a $2,000 scholarship if they attended,” mother Angela White said. “We honestly didn’t think there was any chance. Most of them were valedictorians and there was a student at my table who I couldn’t even understand what she was majoring in.”
    The timeline of the results was ambiguous; applicants were told they would find out if they received the scholarship by the end of the year. When New Year’s rolled around, the Whites didn’t think much of it.  On Jan. 6, White received a call from his admissions counselor at Baylor informing him that he received the scholarship and called his mom right away.

    “I was almost hysterical,” Mrs. White said. “I couldn’t believe it. It was one of the most shocking events of my life.”

    Senior Harini Suresh is attending Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tenn. She received the Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship, which includes full tuition, plus a one-time stipend to be used towards a summer study abroad or research experience. Suresh didn’t actually even apply for the scholarship. A professor she met with recommended her so she was surprised to find out she received the scholarship and considers herself blessed. Photo by Rinu Daniel.

    Suresh was very independent when it came to her college application process. Majoring in oboe performance, she scheduled her auditions and told her parents when to book the flight. She was about to get on another flight home from her spring break trip in Washington D.C. while she was looking through her emails for her boarding pass and noticed an email from Vanderbilt University informing her of a scholarship.

    “Harini called me breathless and I thought she was having some sort of medical emergency while she was in D.C.,” mother Meena Suresh said. “She told me she got a full scholarship and I was so excited.”

    Suresh never thought she would be where she is now – at Vanderbilt, or even majoring in oboe performance.

    “If you would have asked me a year ago if I would major in music I would have said no,” Suresh said. “I realized the highlights of my time at high school were through music, so I want to do what I love.”

    With the academic atmosphere more intense than ever, scholarships are more competitive and prospective students have to work hard and do more to stand out, especially to receive a full ride.

    “Alyssa doesn’t deserve it more than anyone,” Mr. Rusch said. “She earned it. It’s been a lot of late nights and leaving at 2 a.m. every weekend for softball games in Houston and doing her homework on the ride home. She’s been a focused young lady her whole life and has been burning the candle at both ends through high school with academics and athletics.”

    Rusch doesn’t plan to stop her hard work now. She wants to take full advantage of this gift.

    “I think for me it’s a symbol of opportunity,” Rusch said. “I consider myself blessed. I don’t plan to take it for granted. It’s a reminder to keep up my dedication and hard work.”

    White’s Preliminary SAT (PSAT) score of 224 earned him the title of National Merit Finalist this year, which is nationally recognized and can earn many scholarships. White’s sophomore year, his parents sat down with him and discussed how his scores were promising and set goals for him. His mother cut out a picture of a MacBook Pro and White kept it on his wall for motivation to become a National Merit Scholar.

    Senior Zeb White is attending Baylor University in Waco, Texas. White’s status of National Merit Finalist earned him free tuition at Baylor, but he was surprised to find out he received an additional scholarship totaling to a full ride. He believes he was selected because of his passion for the school’s mission rather than simply test scores and grades and is proud the attend his parents’ alma mater. Photo by Mia Ford.

    “It’s hard to see in 10th grade how rewarding being a National Merit can be,” Mrs. White said. “We want to get the word out about what a gold mine it can be to encourage other kids to work toward it. We wanted to give him an incentive because it could change his whole life. And it did.”

    White received his PSAT score during school last year. His English teacher Zach Sherman made him wait until the end of the period to open and read it. He discovered he was qualified for National Merit and went to the Apple store to get his MacBook that night. Although he worked hard to earn it, White feels he received his scholarship for more than his scores.

    “I’m intelligent, but I’m not even in the top 10 percent,” White said. “I think they were looking for people who wanted what Baylor wanted and to pursue their mission.”

    Suresh’s scholarship sort of fell in her lap; she actually didn’t even apply. The oboe professor she met and auditioned with at Vanderbilt recommended her for the scholarship. The professor’s accomplishments and caring attitude was one of the reasons she chose Vanderbilt over her other prospective schools.

    Suresh’s success can be attributed to her many different talents. She is majoring in oboe performance and her secondary major is pre-med at Vanderbilt.

    “More than her many talents, Harini has excellent character and we are very proud of her,” Mrs. Suresh said. “It is God’s grace that she shaped up to be like that. Vanderbilt is lucky to have her.

    Fate. Blessing. Grace. Whatever they consider their scholarship to be, these future freshmen don’t plan to take it for granted and look forward to the surprises and successes in the next phase of their lives.

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