Students reflect on their educational journey with encouragement from mentors
By: DALILA KAHVEDZIC
“To me, the Emerging Scholars, you are bright, bright shining stars,” Hauser said.
Hauser was a guest speaker at the fourth annual Emerging Scholars Banquet held for students on Tuesday, Nov. 3 which recognized their academic success.
He compared the Emerging Scholars to not just stars, but glow sticks as well.
“How do you activate a glow stick? You break it. Those chemicals have to interact together or no chemistry is actually going to happen in this particular case, so let’s talk about that journey that you used to maybe achieve this sort of success that you found and you’re being honored for tonight,” Hauser said.
When Hauser first became a father, he knew there was nothing his child could not accomplish, he said.
“I looked at my child and I said there’s nothing this child can’t do. The sky is the limit and that is the case for every person in this room,” Hauser said.
But things happen; things dampen our curiosity or family situations occur, Hauser said. He said the world is an oyster.
“So, maybe you never knew you were bright, okay? We all grow up and the world is our oyster as they say. Maybe you didn’t have a support network, maybe English wasn’t your first language — perhaps there was no good role model,” Hauser said.
With the lights off, he cracked the glow stick. When the two chemicals interacted after the glow stick broke, electrons were excited in the chemicals. The electrons rose to a higher level and then shrank back down to a lower level and light was emitted.
This process is known as luminescence. “So then something good can happen; maybe you have a role model develop in your life, maybe
you actually have a child and you want to become the role model, maybe that teacher steps into your life, maybe that special person enters your life,” Hauser said.
Chemicals shaken together; a star is born. And that star is the Emerging Scholar, Hauser said.
“You had a burning desire in your life and you discovered what that can do for you and what it continued to do for you.”
Emerging Scholar and Meramec student Austin Lewandowski began attending classes two and a half years ago. The experience has been awesome, he said.
“All the teachers are really great and they’re always willing to help you and go the extra mile to help the students,” Lewandowski said.
This night means a lot to Lewandowski.
“It just brings it all back together, this being my last semester, it’s nice to see some old teachers… and know what I’m going for in the future,” Lewandowski said. “I had a really great tutor last year who was a really good mentor and my parents obviously are always good role models to look up to.”
Lewandowski plans to transfer to Western State Colorado University to study wildlife biology. STLCC-Meramec student and Emerging Scholar of the Year recipient Mary Cravens will apply to the nursing program to become an RN and work toward a BSN.
In addtion to attending college, Cravens has a son and a full-time job.
“It does get difficult because I work full time and have him and school, but I fit it in when I can. He’s been a big inspiration just because I want him to go to college and I want to be a good example for him,” Cravens said.
Cravens did not expect to get the Emerging Scholar of the Year award, but was happy to be a part of it and gain recognition along with other students.
“It kind of gives you the motivation to continue on,” Cravens said.
STLCC–Meramec English professor Kelly Wavering has regularly attended the annual banquet since it began.
“We started four years ago and we have gradually gone from four scholars the first two years, then we had six and now we have 16. Of those 16, four are Wildwood scholars,” Wavering said.
The Emerging Scholars Banquet is a celebration of students’ hard work, persistence and dedication, she said.
“Often times, we don’t celebrate our students enough when they do really extraordinary things and these students have done extraordinary things,” Wavering said. “They started in developmental courses, they’ve gone on to take college level courses and are doing incredibly well with their college courses and not a lot of people do that.”
Although the students put in the hard work, they did not do it alone; they had mentors along the way, Wavering said. Students had faculty, parents, friends and siblings, so it is a celebration for the support system as well.
“This is just the beginning of their journey. They have a long one ahead of them. Many have aspirations to go on and earn a four year degree, graduate degree, even PhDs; we have several of our scholars this year that are looking at becoming lawyers and doctors and those sorts of things. That journey is long and it’s going to be difficult, but they [need to] recognize that they can do it,” Wavering said. “I have conquered, I have done, I have succeeded and I will continue to do so.”
Dean of Business and Communication at STLCC– Meramec Vernon Kays says students need to learn how to be an advocate for themselves and always come prepared.
“50 percent of what you do is showing up, the other 25 percent is doing your homework, and the other 25 percent is being prepared in class which means reading the textbook ahead of time, having questions so you’re not just sitting there taking it in — being an active, engaged learner,” Kays said.
If students continue on this path, they will have many more opportunities of choices, he said. They will not be limited by their grades or by other decisions that they make.
“Education is an opportunity, but it’s not a gift. It’s earned,” Kays said.