For some, scholarships and financial assistance can be the difference between attending college and opting out of higher education altogether. At Newman, there is an entire day — two days, actually — dedicated to high schoolers interviewing for the best scholarships Newman has to offer.
Ninety-nine students from near and far interviewed for Newman’s most prestigious scholarships during the 2023 Scholarship Interview Days Jan. 21 and 28.
Georgia Drewes, senior associate director of admissions, said that with nearly 40 volunteers of staff, faculty, students and ASC sisters, it truly “took a team to make each day a success.”
“This year was a bit different,” Drewes explained. “We only had one day [for interviews] last year, so it was an incredibly busy, long day. This year, we planned early on to offer two days so we could have as much participation as possible.”
Between the two dates, 96 additional guests joined the high schoolers for the on-campus visit, compared to an estimated 50 guests at the 2022 Scholarship Interview Day.
Interviews made up the bulk of the afternoons, but a full day of programming gave students a welcoming glimpse into life on campus.
Students and guests were treated to a celebratory scholars luncheon courtesy of Great Western Dining and a special welcome from Newman President Kathleen S. Jagger, Ph.D., MPH. Faculty speaker Kristi Barton Edwards, assistant professor of criminal justice, and two current St. Newman scholars, Joshua Dessenberger and Elise Helfrich, also addressed the interviewees between the two weekend sessions.
Parents of the interviewing students also had the opportunity to ask questions at a Q&A panel with Jagger, Edwards, Newman Chaplain Father Adam Grelinger and Registrar Lori Gibbon. Twenty-seven families — as opposed to only eight families last year — took advantage of meeting with Newman financial aid staff to discuss FAFSA, payment plans and other financial resources.
“Meeting with families and answering their questions is probably one of the best parts of the job,” Director of Financial Aid Myra Pfannenstiel said. “Providing information and guidance hopefully takes away some of a student’s or parent’s confusion and fear regarding financial aid.”
Students who applied for the Honors Program were not required to interview, but Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program Kelly McFall offered a mini “Reacting to the Past” game to better evaluate the students.
“During the game, we separated out the guests and parents for a coffee tasting with Monica Borger, former administrative assistant in Campus Ministry at Newman,” Drewes said.
While some students prepared for interviews, family members and friends took tours of residence halls, the state-of-the-art Bishop Gerber Science Center and other areas of campus. Tables with refreshments, Newman Jet gear for purchase and information were stationed throughout Eck Hall and Bishop Gerber.
“We also had support from security — special shout out to [Director of Security] Mo Floyd,” Drewes added.
Interviewing for Newman scholarships
The top Newman scholarships are the St. Newman scholarship, the Monsignor McNeill scholarship, ASC Service Award scholarship and the Honors Program scholarship.
Some students applied for one scholarship, others for two and still others qualified and applied for all three. Each interview featured a mix of faculty and staff members, current Newman students and even ASC sisters, depending on the program.
For West High School students Areli Quezada and Alondra Sifuentes, volunteerism and service have always played important roles in each of their lives. When the day finally came to apply for the Newman ASC Service Award, they focused their nervous, excited energy on the endless possibilities a scholarship could bring to their futures.
“Today’s a big day,” Quezada said. “It’s a big step into adulthood, it’s reaching out to the community and meeting new people, but I’m excited.”
“Ever since I can remember, I wanted to become a teacher,” she continued. “I even used to teach my stuffed animals. It’s something I’m passionate about, and being a Catholic, I want to go to a school that is Catholic-oriented.”
Sifuentes was also drawn to Newman for its strong Catholic identity, as well as the Newman cheer and dance team and renowned nursing program.
“When my dad got diagnosed with diabetes, we went to Via Christi and I got to see the big impact that nurses have on people,” she said. “I want to do that, too.”
Gabriel Nunez of Salina High School South experienced the Newman culture during a soccer showcase, where he met Assistant Men’s Soccer Coach Victor Olorunfemi.
“I thought the coaches were really nice to me and are very good people, campus looks great and I knew a couple of friends who were going to come here as well,” Nunez said.
Nunez said he was excited to meet new people and apply for the ASC Service Award scholarship, particularly because “being able to volunteer with soccer and help our youth has always been very important to me.”
“Today’s a really important day for me. It’s my first time visiting the campus, getting to know the people here and learning more about the community. I feel like coming to Newman and getting this scholarship would really help me out with becoming a better leader as well.”
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