Stamps Leadership Scholars Program provides leadership, service, and research opportunities for Barry’s best and brightest
Published November 1, 2012
Anna-Marie Weed was finishing up her final semester as a high school senior, and the pressure to decide on which college she would be attending in the fall was beginning to set in. Thankfully, with one phone call, her decision became crystal clear.
“As soon as I heard that I was accepted into the Stamps program, I knew which university was right for me,” said Weed, a sophomore at Barry majoring in chemistry. “I still remember excitedly stumbling over my words when admissions called to let me know I was selected.”
Weed is one of 11 students at Barry who have been selected to participate in its Stamps Leadership Scholars Program since the university instituted the program in the fall of 2010. The program, founded by South Florida philanthropists Penny and E. Roe Stamps, invests in high-achieving incoming freshmen with an interest in leadership and service by providing full-merit scholarships that cover tuition and room and board for four years, with additional funds available for enrichment experiences, often used during the summer.
“The best part of being a Stamps Scholar is that it allows me the opportunity to go to college,” said Stamps Scholar Paul Wenning, a junior at Barry majoring in English. “I was excited for a chance to move to Florida and have a full-ride scholarship...This program has allowed me to go to college without going into debt.”
Barry instituted the program in 2010 as a commitment to attracting the nation’s best and brightest future leaders by providing matching dollars to the Stamps funds to provide full-merit scholarships. Through the support of The Stamps Family Charitable Foundation, it is one of 21 universities in the United States to offer the program.
Although the program has been instituted nationwide, Barry’s Stamps scholars say that their generous benefactors still make it their mission to meet each and every Stamps scholar.
“You can see they care,” Weed said. “Mr. Stamps wants to see what his kids are doing. It’s nice to see how much they care and how much they put into this.”
“The Stamps are great people and are very helpful and easy to talk to,” Wenning said.
Although the award is renewable each year, recipients must maintain certain GPA, community service and leadership training requirements – a commitment that recipients must demonstrate even during the application process.
“The scholarship application asks students to describe a leadership experience they have had or a leadership role they have taken on,” said Magda Castineyra, director of undergraduate admissions at Barry. “It is impressive to see such efforts from those so young. It is also impressive to understand the amount of time it takes to achieve such grades and realize how well they organize free time to accomplish great tasks.”
“Mr. and Mrs. Stamps look for someone who’s not just sitting in a classroom reading a textbook; it’s someone who’s out there learning from their experiences,” Weed said.
It is a task that recipients find to be fulfilling and motivating, they said.
“I’ve been able to connect with the Barry community in a way that I would not have been able to otherwise,” said Bethany Dill, a 2011 Stamps recipient. “From the Honors Program, to taking part in assemblies, to group community service, to having a scholarship advisor, we’ve had so many positive experiences.”
The service component of the program manifests itself in various projects assisting the local community. During the fall 2011 semester, Barry’s Stamps scholars joined forces with local volunteers at Oleta River State Park to protect Florida's natural environment by clearing out non-native plant species. In the spring, they switched gears and began volunteering for the non-profit His House, located in Miami Gardens, which provides residential care for abused, neglected and drug-exposed children in a home-like setting.
“The Stamps program is a very good fit for Barry because of our commitment to social justice and service,” Castineyra said. “We are always looking for ways to award students who are not only bright and high achieving, but also take these abilities outside the classroom to contribute in some way to their communities.”
In addition to providing service opportunities, the Stamps program also offers invaluable leadership development opportunities. As part of Barry’s Presidential Ambassador Program, scholars serve as the faces of the university by hosting campus tours and assisting during campus events.
“The best part of the Stamps scholarship is the leadership opportunities without a doubt,” Weed said. “In a normal college situation, I would always be following someone else, walking along the steps of a set precedent. But with this program, scholars are allowed to grow not only as people, but as future leaders in the community. The Stamps [donors] want us to be on-campus leaders, which is an opportunity that is rarely handed to a college freshman.”
Leadership opportunities are also provided through the scholarship program itself. Every two years, Stamps scholars from across the country gather together at a Stamps-affiliated university for the Stamps Scholars National Conference. During the three-day conference, scholars are able to network with one another, attend leadership workshops, and showcase community service projects and initiatives they are working on at their respective schools. The next conference will take place in April 2013 at the University of Michigan.
The connections that scholars form with one another at conferences are just as valuable as the ones they form with scholars on their respective campuses. During Weed’s first Stamps meeting at Barry, she was introduced to fellow scholar Wenning, and they quickly became good friends. Before the year was up, the two were engaged.
“I believe both of us being part of the program shows that we share some of the same values, leadership and service,” Weed said.
Although they have yet to set a wedding date, they do plan to invite two special guests.
“We would love for the Stamps to come because they have played such an important role in our lives and our meeting,” Wenning said.
Upon graduating, Dill, an education major, hopes to work in community development through a non-profit or international missions. Weed plans to pursue graduate studies in chemical engineering, while Wenning has his sights set on becoming a high school English teacher. Regardless of where life takes them, their experience with the Stamps program will be an important resource in helping them navigate the road ahead, they said.
“The Stamps scholarship is enabling me to do what I have always dreamed of doing,” Dill said. “Some people really want to serve others but find themselves stuck working off college loans in jobs they’re not passionate about. Graduating with no debt will allow me to start serving right off the bat. And the experiences the scholarship is giving me are preparing me for whatever the future holds.”
In May 2011, Barry announced four new Stamps recipients for the 2012-2013 academic year. Similar to Weed, two of the new recipients, Melina Williman and Victoria Hoelscher, struggled with the college search process, they said.
“I found the college search to be far more stressful than I expected,” Williman said.
Hoelscher, echoing these sentiments, said, “Searching for a college was stressful for me . . . I was afraid that I would place a large financial burden on my family.”
Also like Weed, however, receiving the news that they were accepted into the Stamps program made their decisions effortless.
“At this point, I knew immediately that I would be attending Barry University and was excited to receive an education at such an amazing school without placing stress on my family,” Hoelscher said.
“Being accepted into the Stamps program made my decision quite obvious,” Williman said. “The Stamps program has allowed me to fulfill my lifelong dream of attending an out-of-state college.”
Both have high expectations for the program.
“I hope to gain the skills of being a leader in a real-world setting instead of merely in a high school classroom,” Hoelscher said.
Williman also seeks real-world leadership skills that will allow her to make a difference and give back to the university that she will call home for the next four years.
“I hope to be exposed to new experiences and gain a more worldly view,” she said. “I would also like to make a positive impact on the Barry community.”
For more information about the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation, visit http://stampsfoundation.org.