Elephants and Unsung Heroes

marilee lindamanA message from Executive Director Marilee Lindemann

My late mother, a high school English teacher with a can-do attitude, had a corny joke she often told to inspire students to tackle large, ambitious projects. “How do you eat an elephant?” she would ask with a raised eyebrow. She’d pause dramatically before declaring, “One bite at a time!”

We eat a lot of elephants in College Park Scholars. Over the course of the academic year, faculty and staff plan and execute close to a dozen events involving many hundreds of people – from Convocation and Service Day in the fall to Academic Showcase and Charity Soft/Kickball in the spring. We oversee curriculum and conduct assessments for 12 unique programs. In December and January, we read thousands of applications from the pool of admitted students to select those who will be invited to join Scholars in the coming year. Once invitations go out, we spend countless hours meeting with prospective students and families at open houses and in individual visits. Come summer, we work hard to assure that incoming students are ready for the transition to college. We host three orientations for Scholars students and meet regularly throughout the summer to plan fall opening events and activities.

You can see why Mom’s advice about how to approach ridiculously large tasks has popped into my head a number of times during my nearly two years in Scholars. What you can’t readily see, however, are the amazing, dedicated individuals who labor behind the scenes in the Cambridge Community to assure that all of these massive undertakings run smoothly. Let me introduce you to the unsung heroes of the Scholars central staff, who are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet and some of the best darned elephant eaters on the planet.

Dave Eubanks is the associate director of Scholars. Like me, Dave has a PhD in English, but, unlike me, he’s developed impressive skill in data collection and analysis. For fun, Dave runs ultra-marathons. I suspect the fortitude he’s cultivated on 50-mile trail races serves him well when he’s gathering and printing more than 550 student posters for Academic Showcase or crunching mountains of numbers as annual report season rolls in.

Ben Parks is an assistant director whose portfolio includes community building, diversity and inclusion, and civic engagement. Ben oversees planning for Service Day, Convocation, and our new fall Block Party. I fondly refer to Ben as our director of feelings and logistics, because he’s the guy you call when you need advice on a roommate problem or when you need to book 40 or so busses to transport a thousand students to service sites throughout the Maryland/DC area. Ben works closely with coordinator Jeany Cadet to create exciting opportunities for students to develop as leaders, mentors, and citizens during their time in Scholars. Jeany runs our Lakeland STARs tutoring program and the peer mentor program.

Brent Hernandez is an assistant director tasked with finding the right students for Scholars and persuading them to join the program. He oversees admissions, recruitment, and orientation for us. Brent has a big heart and an infectious laugh. He never met a stranger and has infinite reservoirs of patience for students and families struggling with the many decisions involved in choosing a college. Brent works in tandem with front-office manager Nancy Metrenas to assure that questions are promptly and accurately answered during a tense, busy season.

Erin Golden is an assistant director and (aside from me) the newest member of the Scholars central staff. Responsible for communication and alumni outreach, Erin is our brand manager and storyteller in chief. This year, she oversaw a major overhaul of the Scholars website aimed at making it sleeker and more mobile-friendly. She and web GA Sam Essien worked diligently and in collaboration with everyone in Scholars to build an attractive, information-rich, 21st-century website. We’ll soon be saying farewell to Sam, who is completing his PhD in civil engineering this summer. Congratulations, Sam, and thank you for all your hard work on behalf of Scholars.

Last but not least, Carolyn Seward is the unsung hero of the Scholars business office. She makes sure our books are balanced and that we are in compliance with the state’s complicated rules about procurement. Money makes the world go around, and Carolyn sees to it that the Scholars world spins smoothly.

Like I said, we eat a lot of elephants in Scholars. We’re fortunate to have a group of smart, caring folks who are always willing to take just one more bite to make sure the job gets done.

Share this post