The NC State Paper Science and Engineering program is undoubtedly unique – it is one of less than a dozen programs of its kind in the United States, it has close ties with industry partners, and it sports an incredibly active alumni network. It is these intimate industry and alumni connections that help provide scholarships to students interested in studying pulp and paper science. Currently, there are over 135 individual endowed scholarships available to students and approximately 60% of PSE students have been given one of these awards.
Each year, a devoted group of alumni and NC State faculty pour hours into reviewing the applications for Pulp and Paper Scholarships. These scholarships are available to high school seniors and current NC State students who are interested in pursuing a career in the pulp and paper industry. Each student’s application, and assorted essays, are reviewed by members, providing the committee with a holistic view of the student and their accomplishments – both academic and extracurricular.
We look past the words on the page
“We pay very close attention to their answers to the essay questions, as well as their demonstrated leadership and extra-curricular activities,” says Bart Nicholson, a seasoned committee veteran of ten years, “We really try to get to know these individuals through this information so we can make good judgements about how well an individual will fit into the PSE program, how they will perform under the academic rigors, and how suited they might be for careers in the Pulp & Paper (and Allied) Industry.”
The review process is meticulous – each application is reviewed by at least five committee members, leaving our volunteers to review upwards of forty applications in a single season! Nicholson explains that “each candidate is graded based on the content and presentation of their application. The scholarship committee members have gotten pretty good at telling the difference between a serious, thoughtful candidate and one that doesn’t take the time to present themselves fully and sincerely.”
Jack Lowdermilk, another core member of seven years, joined the committee after heading up Solenis’ summer internship program and acting as a recruiter at NC State. “I [enjoy] working with students and I saw the [Scholarship] committee as a way to give back to the program that was good to me,” Lowdermilk states, “I’m excited to see the quality of students that the program is attracting and that what [the committee] is doing to feed the program is working. I believe that it is contributing to the program’s sustainability.”
The “Why” Behind the Programs Success
Faculty members are also encouraged to partake in the scholarship selection process. Dr. Nathalie Lavoine has recently become a part of our NC State family as well as a member of the committee, and she found the experience helpful in better understanding the American education system as well as shedding light on the type of student the program is trying to attract. She mentioned that students are selected based on different criteria at NC State than in Europe, and this process helped her understand what the program expects from the undergraduates, especially the freshman class.
“In France, if you want to be among the best you need to be a robot and be good at math and physics. Here, there’s lots of focus on your personality (leadership, involvement and service minded attitude) and what you want to be a part of going forward,” she notes, “there is a much higher focus on giving back. The faculty here really care about the students because they see bright students leading the future. We are relying on the students to be in charge of the industry’s future.”
It is this type of dedication that sets the NC State Paper Science and Engineering program apart from all the rest. We want to thank all of the Scholarship Committee members as well as the Pulp and Paper Advisory Committee for its commitment to the betterment of the program and its students. A full list of the Scholarship Committee members is below:
Scholarship Committee Members:
Jan Morgan, Chair
Mary Elliston, Vice Chair
Larry Offill III
Guest Blogger: Manon Macallister