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Feb 12, 2024

All Aboard the Luther Hodges Scholars Train

By: Lucia Park, Class of 2026

During the first week of the semester, the newest class of Luther Hodges Scholars gathered at the Kenan Center board room for New Scholar Orientation. As the first official event after the New Scholar Celebration Dinner last semester, we could sense the excitement across the room. It was a moment we had all been waiting for since we received the warm and exciting congratulatory! email from Dr. Allen on a Thursday afternoon last November.

The orientation started off with a program overview and discussion with the Kenan Institute Leadership Team. Sophomores got a chance to formally introduce themselves and meet our wonderful mentors like Dr. Paige Ouimet, the executive director of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. The sessions were a reminder to all that Luther Hodges Scholars are not a working group but a team with a common purpose. By observing how our personal missions align with that of others and the Kenan Institute, it was a moment for us to remind ourselves on why we chose to become a Luther Hodges Scholar. During the All Scholars Dinner, four sophomore scholars including myself stayed longer after the event with Dean Mary Margaret Frank to talk about cross-sector collaboration and memories from her student days on Franklin St. while a Carolina student. After her talk, she lingered with a small group of us, patiently answering questions, relaying exciting stories, and offering so much encouragement for our journeys. She even offered rides back to our dorms in the rain. Her kindness just made our first day of orientation even more special.

The next day, the scholars met for the second day of orientation. We spent all morning creating vision boards to share our mission with one another while enjoying hot coffee and donuts. By visualizing our goals, we practiced how to strategically brainstorm smart objectives for the semester. It was a great lead in to our upcoming spring initial advising sessions, which are one-on-one meetings with Keith, the assistant director of student engagement, to help set us up for success. Phil, the program’s assistant director of external affairs, also revealed the long awaited list of cross-sector internship sites for summer 2024. Along with a detailed overview of how to utilize exploratory funds and engage with affiliated centers at the Kenan Institute, we were amazed by the amount of opportunities afforded to us scholars. The team ended the day by taking a group picture outside the patio under the sun with a “Thank You” sign. And we truly are grateful to be Luther Hodges Scholars.

That night, I hung up my vision board beside my lofted bed. Every night I go to sleep thinking of how grateful I am to call the Luther Hodges Scholars program my home for the next 2.5 years. With many more dinners, trips, and classes to come with my cohort, I cannot wait to see what we will achieve. Thank you to Dr. Allen, Phil, Keith, and Tya for a great start to the program!

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