Congratulations to the 2009 Udall Scholars and Honorable Mentions! All of the files in this box will be getting good news from the Foundation in the next couple of weeks. (It's taken from the back of the box, so don't try to enlarge it to read names off of the files...)
We met one last time this morning for about an hour to debrief the reading process. Sitting in a circle, we talked about what went well, what we would like to be done differently, suggestions we have for the future, etc. Overall, there was a feeling that while there were more files that were not truly competitive this year, there were also more files that were quite outstanding. Regions also seemed to be either quite strong, or not as strong (as you may have gleaned from my posts over the last few days) -- there seem to be fewer applications or regions that were kind of middling.
There was also some frustration with how mediocre most of the essays we read were -- how little true analysis seems to go into them. As I wrote earlier, a large % of the essays had a thesis along the lines of "Mo's words ring true today..." which just gets repetitive after awhile.
We also talked about the difference between questions B1 and B2, whether the research question should continue to be asked, the primacy of the leadership essay in our decision-making process, whether or not the Udall website should have sample answers like the Truman does, the proper role of the facrep (and what to do about campuses that do not have an active facrep, and how to level the playing field for those candidates), and then the annual conversation about what to do about the 18 applicants who won the Udall as a sophomore and are reapplying as Juniors (do you hold them to a higher standard? Should we spread the wealth and not allow them to reapply? What is the impact both on those who win twice and those who don't get selected the second time?). Jane and Mia took notes on our conversation, and will consider our feedback in the coming weeks and months, I am sure.
A few people peeled off during the discussion to go get on shuttles to the airport. We hugged one another, thanked the foundation, and we're off.
Reading is a really interesting and fun experience. It's tiring, and a bit overwhelming, but also inspiring to see all of these future leaders. I'm a big fan of the Udall Scholarship, and thank the foundation staff both for this opportunity to read and blog, and for the hard work they do to make a difference in the lives of these students.
I'm still planning one more long post to explain how I read files and the crucial parts of each question, so stay tuned for that. But in the meantime, I have a spring training ticket to the Dbacks and Cubbies this afternoon.