EOP Scholars Academy Resilience ProjectProject Size: Large, >$1,000
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $3,000
Letter of Intent:
Low-income communities of color continue to face inequities when attempting to access high-impact educational practices. The University of Washington is no exception. It offers students a broad palette of activities from which to participate. This includes study abroad, undergraduate research, community-driven leadership projects and internships. Unfortunately, participating in these activities often requires money. The primary way students access funding outside of financial aid is by applying for competitive scholarships. However, the scholarships process to which we are accustomed is inherently inequitable. Being selected for a scholarship often hinges on gaining access to high impact educational experiences and then effectively writing about those experiences in a compelling personal statement. One of the biggest barriers keeping low-income students from maximizing these opportunities is a lack of confidence in their own ability to compete for scholarships that can facilitate gaining these experiences. However, these experiences make students more competitive for future scholarships. The consequence of this diffidence is that students either do not apply for scholarships at all or do so with the belief that their efforts will result in failure or rejection. This defeatist attitude must be repudiated. The Educational Opportunity Program, UW Study Abroad and the Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships and Awards want to partner to create and co-teach a formal scholarships curriculum grounded in and driven by the discovery of and cultivation in one’s own resilience. This would supplement the existing class curriculum of the General Studies 391 course offered in spring 2021 by EOP instructor Kristi Soriano-Noceda and provide students a practical means of synthesizing the course objectives of appreciating one’s self, thriving at UW beyond the first year and increasing knowledge of UW resources. The curriculum for this course will be organized in three phases. The first phase will focus on practicing a growth mindset and fostering resilience. All 150 students in the EOP Scholars Academy will read Educated by Tara Westover as a supplement to other texts in the course. This book was selected because it engages students with the themes of growth and resilience using a storytelling rather than a self-help approach so that students can recognize their own agency within themselves and acquaint themselves more critically with the narrative writing style scholarship applications require. In addition, the book introduces students to a first-generation college narrative to which they will likely be less familiar. The second phase will introduce students to the arena of competitive scholarships, illustrate their connection to impactful experiences, and teach students proven strategies to connect their interests/goals to the goals of scholarship programs in compelling ways. The third phase of the course will be the application of content learned in which students will identify a scholarship for which they want to apply and practice learned techniques. By the end of the course, students will have a completed rough draft of a personal statement for a scholarship of their choosing. The course will culminate by hosting a fail forward event in which individuals will be chosen from throughout the UW community to share their own experiences of failure, how they persevered, and where those failures ultimately led them. EOP Scholars Resilience Project This curriculum aims to 1) eliminate feelings of diminished self worth so that a student’s quest for scholarships isn’t extinguished before it has a chance to begin; 2) provide students a solid understanding of the scholarships landscape; 3) teach students to develop and articulate goals, thus increasing their competitiveness; 4) create a pipeline of students who have the confidence to study abroad and who are better prepared to utilize the full breadth of services offered by the Office of Merit Scholarships Fellowships and Awards as well as other experiential learning opportunities. In addition to skill acquisition, this course fits within the University of Washington’s Diversity Blueprint to “attract, retain, and graduate a diverse and excellent student body” by teaching students critically needed writing skills that will be applicable to future coursework. It will also demonstrate to students through their own narratives that they are what makes the UW student body excellent. This course will contribute to producing graduates better prepared for their future next steps and who are more compassionate toward themselves. Furthermore, this curriculum is also in alignment with the SDG of reducing inequalities. Specifically, our course will contribute to reducing the economic inequality caused by academic debt by increasing the likelihood that these students will receive scholarships during their tenure at UW. We have chosen to focus on the EOP Scholars Academy because these freshmen have conditional admittance to the UW and thus are more likely to have less confidence in their own abilities and may struggle to visualize themselves participating in the activities mentioned above. In addition, EOP students tend to have significant financial need. According to the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity, 61% of EOP/OMA&D students at UW Seattle were Pell-grant eligible for at least one quarter through spring 2020. This course will utilize multiple assessment strategies to measure the effectiveness of this curriculum. The assessment period will be from June 2021-to June 2022. Surveys will be used at the beginning and end of the course to measure student self esteem, confidence in their writing skills and overall knowledge about scholarships. We will also track how many of these students connect with the Office of Merit Scholarships through advising, workshop attendance, and/or submitting a scholarship application over that period. In addition, we will track how many students participate in any of the activities offered by the Center for Experiential Learning and Diversity and UW Study Abroad. We are seeking the support of the Resilience and Compassion Initiatives Seed Grant to purchase the common book for this added curriculum. Our hope is that we can use this course to pilot this curriculum, and if successful, offer this training to all EOP students as a formal stand-alone course.