College Park Scholars has been coordinating an annual theme for four years—starting with “Trash: The Problem of Waste in Our Lives and Our World” in the fall of 2015. The annual theme gives our students, who tend to spend most of their Scholars classroom time within their individual programs, an opportunity to interact across programs.
When Sophia Burton first entered college, she had little idea what major she wanted to declare, much less what career she wanted to pursue. “I never planned it out this way,” says Burton, who graduated from the University of Maryland (UMD) in 2007 and currently works on migration issues in Germany. “I’m not saying one shouldn’t have a plan, but for me it was never like, ‘I know I want to be an engineer or a lawyer.’” Her lack of a plan, however, was made up for by a passion that even those with clear-cut career aspirations sometimes lack.
College Park Scholars kicked off the spring semester with a February dialogue event for students to share their own personal stories around our annual theme, “Migrations.” Many of the participants, as first- or second-generation Americans, spoke of their connections to their parents’ or grandparents’ cultures through food. They also referenced the emotional impacts their families’ respective migration stories had on their own lives.
My first gig at the University of Maryland was an assistantship to Dr. Thomas Holtz, who at the time was creating the Earth, Life and Time program—the precursor to College Park Scholars’ current Science and Global Change (SGC) program. In the 19 years since, I’ve taken on many other responsibilities, including the director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Geology. But my job with Scholars remains by far my favorite.
Marlen Cruz has taken on many roles in her scant 20-some years. First-generation American. First-generation college student. And: a commuter student. “My parents live five minutes away from campus. They were like, ‘There’s no way you’re living on campus,’” she relays, laughing.
Katie Bemb hadn’t intended on becoming a Terp. As a high school senior, she applied to the University of Maryland (UMD) regular decision but was strongly considering another university in the Washington, DC, metro area. That inclination began to change after her best friend—who had applied early action to UMD—got accepted into College Park Scholars. Students who apply early action are automatically considered for the living–learning program.