Each Finalist Weekend brings new scholars with new perspectives
By Anne Bongermino
March is, for most students at Ithaca College, synonymous with cold weather, midterms, spring break, and internship applications. For Park Scholars, March also marks the coming of Finalist Weekend. Each year, 20 to 30 high school seniors arrive on campus for interviews, meet-and-greets, dinners, tours, and a peek into the Park Scholar program.
Many of the current scholars reminisce about their own Finalist Weekend as the prospective students arrive by plane, train, bus and car. We have flashbulb memories of eating Purity Ice Cream in the lounge with our freshmen hosts, observing the filming of ICTV shows, and, more than anything, the anxious process of interviewing for an amazing opportunity to be a part of the Park Scholar community.
Having seen Finalist Weekend through the lens of a high school student, freshman host, and now, a returning sophomore, I can say that while the process is structured the same each year, no two weekends are the same. As a finalist, Dr. Matt Fee’s annual index of the incredible achievements of each high school student at the Welcome Dinner filled me with anxiety and awe. Everyone was so talented and accomplished! As a freshman, I remember doing my best to support my finalists, giving them advice and making them comfortable while they stayed with my roommate and I for three days. This year, I have finally had a chance to admire the accomplishments of each finalist, congratulate them on their volunteerism, self-drive, and academic performance.
As we all listened to the speakers at the Welcome Dinner talk about life journeys and the companions you make along the way, we looked around the room and exchanged glances with these very companions. In the program or outside of it, these finalists will go on to achieve great things, and having the support of friends, family, teachers, neighbors, and even other Park Scholars is what makes these life journeys so incredible.