By Megan Whitman, Ingraham High School Lead
I always wonder if people can feel the excitement. It’s in our signs and our shirts, and it’s all across campus. It’s in our leaders, reuniting in the office after a summer of internships and studying abroad. It’s in our newest staff additions and our recruitment team as hundreds of freshmen pack into classrooms to listen to our pitch on why they should join the program. It is in our first lecture where syllabi and fruit snacks are handed out to mentors joining the program for the first time. It’s in all of us as we watch the number of mentors creep up day by day, hour by hour. It’s a new beginning, the best part of back-to-school, and it’s exciting.
Last week, I invited some of our Dream Scholars to the office to chat for the first time since they stepped onto the University of Washington campus as students. We talked about decorating our dorms and going on the late night shopping trip to Fred Meyer. We talked about professors and majors, the clubs they wanted to join, and the classes they were planning to take. We talked about our 4-0 (and counting) football team, and walking across campus in the rain, about playing tennis at the IMA, and even about joining Dream Project. Every topic, no matter what we turned to, their responses got longer, and their smiles grew bigger, and their enthusiasm became more noticeable. They were truly realizing how far they had come to be here at the University of Washington, chatting with the same undergraduates that had supported them for the past year, but this time they were chatting with us as peers, as undergraduates themselves.
Their individual excitement, though, is nothing compared to that of our program as a whole. As our incoming Dream Scholars make the UW their home, we are also looking forward to seeing our UW graduating seniors decide which graduate school or career paths they will pursue. Experienced mentors will be transitioning into new leadership roles and our first quarter mentors will be settling into their high school visits and the Dream Project family. We are already working on bringing the next cohort of high school students to campus for Admissions Workshop Weekend; at AWW, they can work on personal statements for college applications and eventually go on to become Dream Scholars at UW, and at colleges and universities across the country.
It is a new year, it is back-to-school, back to the passion and the purpose that defines this program, and it will be exciting.