Scholars Weekend 2013 Recap

The 12th annual Scholars Weekend took place from August 1 to August 4, 2013, at the National Conference Center in Leesburg, VA. More than 420 scholars from all over the world attended this year’s event. There were Scholars from 42 states plus Washington, DC, as well as Scholars from six different countries. The farthest Scholar came all the way from Moscow, Russia—4,850 miles away! The weekend gave Scholars the chance to catch up with old friends, meet new Scholars, continue to learn about the programs of the Foundation, and of course, have some fun.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

All of the Young Scholars and Higher Education Scholars arrived at the National Conference Center. The room was full of Scholars hugging and catching up on what they had been up to in the last year.


August 1, 2013—A group of Young Scholars catch up on what they’ve been doing since they last saw each other.

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August 1, 2013Young Scholars check in for their first Scholars Weekend.

Higher ed check in

August 1, 2013—Higher Education Scholars check in for the 12th annual Scholars Weekend.

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August 1, 2013—Cheryl Scott-Mouzon and the parent of one of her Scholars reunite.

After registration, Young Scholars headed to their ‘Presenting Yourself Workshop’ where they discussed how best to prepare for future college interviews. Everyone came together later in the evening for the welcome dinner in the dining hall.

After dinner, Scholars and staff convened for the General Welcome Session. Scholars were introduced to the Foundation staff members and learned a little more about what each scholarship program does with the game ‘Two truths and a lie.’

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August 1, 2013—Program Manager Barbara Schmertz welcomes the crowd to Scholars Weekend with her hippo hat.

After the introductions, Tom DeLuca took the stage and hypnotized 17 Scholars.

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August 1, 2013—Scholars dance while being hypnotized.

Once the hypnosis wore off, everyone headed off to prepare for Friday.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday started off bright and early with breakfast in the dining hall. Scholars then went on to their first sessions of the day.

Young Scholars went to a college essay writing session with Dr. Rebecca Joseph followed by a College Scholar Panel.

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August 2, 2013—Young Scholars learn some tips about how to write a college essay.

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August 2, 2013—Young Scholars ask advice from former Young Scholars at the College Scholar Panel.

Higher Ed Scholars were divided into groups of new and returning Scholars. New Scholars headed to a scholarship introduction session and a peer-to-peer panel; returning Scholars enjoyed presentations from their fellow Scholars in the expert interviews and Ignite sessions, followed by a speaker’s bureau workshop.

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August 2, 2013—A  Scholar presents her research during an Ignite Session.

After a break for lunch, the Scholars headed back into their sessions. Young Scholars met with their Educational Advisers, practiced their college admissions interviews, and attended a college fair. Over 65 colleges from across the country attended the fair—including Barnard College, Howard University, The Juilliard School, Oberlin College, Pomona College, and Dartmouth College—and gave the Scholars a chance to practice their interviews.

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August 2, 2013—Young Scholars spoke with college representatives of more than 65 colleges at the college fair.

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August 2, 2013—Young Scholars break down the college admissions process with a monthly timeline.

Higher Ed Scholars had the option of attending yoga classes or Scholar led discussion groups. Then they attended a presentation by Marny Lifshen about maintaining professional relationships.

After a long day of sessions, the Scholars had a quick break to get ready for the banquet dinner. After the group photos of each program, Scholars had time to mingle at the reception.

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August 2, 2013—Scholars enjoy catching up with old friends and meeting new people.

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 August 2, 2013—Scholars gather at the reception before the banquet dinner. 

Then they took their seats for the dinner banquet. During dinner, Eva Albalghiti and Yasmine Arrington were recognized for winning the Matthew J. Quinn Youth Leadership Award and the Matthew J. Quinn Prize, respectively.

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August 2, 2013—Yasmine Arrington, winner of the 2013 Quinn Prize, accepts the award from Dr. Quinn.

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August 2, 2013—The 2013 Quinn Youth Leadership Award winner, Eva Albalghiti, accepts her award from Dr. Quinn.

After dinner, keynote speaker and 2004 Undergraduate Transfer Scholar Raul Magdaleno spoke about the importance of self-determination and perseverance in times of struggle.


August 2, 2013—Keynote speaker Raul Magdaleno spoke about how “you may not be able to change where you’ve been but you can change where you’re going.”

The second day of Scholars Weekend came to an end as the Scholars rested up for the morning’s competition.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

For many Scholars, Saturday morning brings the highlight of Scholars Weekend: the Cooke Conundrum. Scholars were divided into 67 teams of six. The three-hour event is a series of puzzles and clues that come together to form a single answer.

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August 3, 2013—Each team had a combination of Scholars from each program. 

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August 3, 2013—Scholars work together to figure out a piece of the Conundrum.

Scholars ran furiously through the building, trying to figure out the next answer. The conundrum is divided into two rounds; teams that complete the first round in the allotted time advance to the second round. The second round is a race to see who can get the answer first.

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August 3, 2013—Congratulations to this year’s winning team!

After lunch and a chance to rest, Scholars were divided by programs again. Young Scholars went to another college scholarship panel, a session about college scholarship information, and a personal planning time session. Higher Ed Scholars traveled to the Udvar Hazy Center, watched ignite sessions, or attended a speech by Howard Liu about stress management and biofeedback.

Later in the day, Scholars had the opportunity to present their research and latest accomplishments at the multimedia and poster session. More than 30 Scholars spoke about their achievements at the science-fair-like session.

After dinner, it was time for the talent show. Scholars from all programs showcased their diverse skills. There were 16 acts in which Scholars sang, played the piano, read poetry, danced, played the harp, read essays, and juggled.

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August 3, 2013—A Scholar plays and harp and sings a song he wrote at the talent show. 

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 August 3, 2013—A Scholar shows off his singing skills. 

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 August 3, 2013—A Scholar demonstrates her passion and talent for dance. 

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August 3, 2013—The crowd applauds the Scholars as they show off their unique talents.

Scholars then had the option of attending salsa lessons, ballroom dance lessons, or going to the DJ dance party.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

On the last day of Scholars Weekend, Scholars came together for the closing sessions and prepared for their departures.

This weekend was so much fun, and we’re all so excited to see everyone at Scholars Weekend 2014!