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San Diego Scholars

Posted on Friday, August 19, 2011

"The evening of April 15 marked the culmination of celebratory events of my first year as a student recipient of the ARCS scholarship -- the Scientist of the Year Dinner. I say 'first year' because I cross my fingers that I might experience this journey again. With the perspective of looking back over a year with ARCS, I now understand what makes this organization unique amongst philanthropic organizations that honor and support emerging scientists.

Students cannot apply for an ARCS scholarship. They must be nominated by a faculty member and then screened with other candidates according to a selection process. In my initial expectations, I believed that therein lies the honor and the core of the student experience…that is, to be recognized by a teacher or mentor and then chosen as one of a select few for acknowledgement of one’s academic efforts. And, of course, the financial support that comes with the acknowledgment is a highly valued gift that enables time to be focused on further studies and research. But this is only the door-opening step into the ARCS experience. The journey is so much more!

The women who so graciously volunteer their time to manage the ARCS Foundation year after year have created a sense of community that embodies the very ideals of their mission. In a series of organized activities, the volunteers, the givers, and the recipients are brought together in a spirit of generosity, thanks, and celebration of scientific excellence that applauds the teamwork between those giving support and those empowered by it. Burgeoning with creativity, intellect, and fellowship, the energy of every gathering emanates an undeniable sense that both the giver and recipient are, in their own way, on paths to greatness by virtue of this collaboration.

For the student, the personal sense of a community populated by societal and scientific role models joining together to say, 'I believe in you and your future potential' is an unforgettable and highly motivating experience. This message is echoed over and over in personal exchanges with the hundreds of people you meet within the ARCS community. Everyone who participates in this journey, from volunteer, to donor, to student, is personally touched and rewarded by the experience. As a student, I look forward to completing the circle in the future as an ARCS volunteer and donor, offering this empowerment to a new generation of students."

Karen Campbell, Ph.D.
San Diego State University