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Graduating Powell Scholars virtually thank their mentors

Powell Scholars virtual luncheon

May 7, 2020
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The Powell Scholars Senior Luncheon, an annual celebration of the student-faculty relationship, was virtual this year. That did not make it any less meaningful. 

The program’s website describes its purpose: “The Powell Scholars Program develops responsible leaders who excel academically and take the initiative to understand and serve the university, local and global communities. Our individual achievements are complemented by uniting others to make a difference in the world.” The Powell Scholars Program is possible through a generous gift from Robert and Jeanette Powell.

The seven graduating Powell Scholars each invited the professor who had the most influence in their life to the event. 

For Dominique Cottrell ’20, a geosciences major, that was Professor Lydia Fox. “She was always there to help me out. That is what you want in a mentor.” 

Cottrell said the small size of the 2020 Powell Scholars graduates made for a close-knit group.

“We started with 12, lost a few and ended up with seven,” said Cottrell, who virtually attended the luncheon from Yreka. “We were there for one another. It was nice to keep the tradition of the annual banquet, even if we were doing it from afar.”

Courtney Lehmann, professor of English and director of Powell Scholars, described the luncheon’s tradition. “The student says a few words about their faculty member, and the faculty member then gives formal remarks about working with the student. Then each Powell Scholar bequeaths a book to future Powell Scholars, describing briefly how it holds significance for them.” 

The graduates and their mentor invitees are:

  • Adam Band (business) invited founding director of the Powell Scholars Program Dr. Cynthia Weick;
  • Cottrell (geosciences) invited Fox, associate professor of geological and environmental sciences and director of environmental studies;
  • Beau Forest (computer science) invited Carlos Villalba-Galea, assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology;
  • Nathan Hampton (bioengineering) invited Andy Lutz, visiting professor in the School of Engineering and Computer Science;
  • Samantha Johnston (economics and international relations) invited Peter Meyer, associate professor of economics;
  • Gianna Maragliano (health exercise and sports sciences) invited Mark Van Ness, professor and co-chair of the Department of Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences;
  • Meredithe Welsh (BS/MS accounting) invited Chris Sablynski, associate professor of management.

“Thanks to the Powell Scholars Program, I have been able to achieve my academic goals, develop as a leader, work on group projects for the university and community, and participate in undergraduate research,” Forest said. “The Powell Scholars Program provides extraordinary opportunities to students and encourages them to explore their interests and pursue excellence. I am incredibly thankful to Robert and Jeanette Powell for their donation and initiative to create the Powell Scholars Program.”

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