Wichita native and Newman University graduate student Rachel Greene is set to receive The League of Women Voters (LWV) Sandra Day O'Connor Scholarship for the 2017-2018 academic year.
"I was thrilled," Greene said in regards to the announcement. "I know that scholarships can be hard to come by at the graduate level. It was a huge honor to have been chosen."
Interestingly enough, Greene's decision to apply was a last minute decision — one week before the application deadline — because in the weeks prior, she was unclear whether or not graduate students were viable candidates. Once clarification was made and it was understood that the scholarship opportunity was available for graduate students, Greene worked with her advisor, Interim Director and Assistant Professor of Social Work Gloria Hegge Ph.D. to compile a completed application.
The composition consisted of university transcripts, written summaries describing Greene's public service and career goals, a list of volunteer work she had completed on behalf of the Wichita community, as well as a letter of recommendation from Hegge.
The LWV returned the top applicants, which included Greene, for a panel interview with four members from the league, and from there the recipient was chosen.
The LWV is a nonpartisan political organization striving to properly inform citizens about the government while also motivating them to become active political participants. The organization has no affiliation with political parties and possesses a sole goal of using education and advocacy to influence public policy.
Initially, Greene said the scholarship was just an opportunity which she stood to gain financially. However, in the wake of her decision to apply for the scholarship, she sought to find out more about the LWV.
It was during this research that she discovered the league's mission perfectly aligned with the passions she had been pursuing over the course of the nine-year career she drove in Pennsylvania doing community advocacy and social work in predominately Hispanic Communities.
At this point, "it became less about the financial aid [the LWV] could provide me and more about their mission," Greene said. "The financial aid aspect was really great, but it is so much more meaningful coming from a source that I feel I can relate to."
Being awarded this scholarship also means that Greene will work as an ambassador for the LWV on the Newman University campus. Greene expressed her belief that politics affect every aspect of our lives, and because of that she hopes to use her role as an ambassador to set up booths and make sure that campus voters are well-informed about government policy.
"A lot of times, a reaction isn't created until we are bothered," Greene said. "And a lot of times, by the time something becomes a problem, it is too late. So when you are active and informed from the beginning, it goes a long way."
The 2017-2018 academic year will mark Greene's final stretch of her two-year trek through the Master of Social Work Program at Newman. The League of Women Voters Sandra Day O'Connor Scholarship is a $2,000 scholarship that will be disbursed in $1,000 increments for Greene's fall and spring semesters.