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Scholars of Excellence weekend draws 82 students for scholarship competition

Jonathan Boyd (left), of Jackson, Tenn., one of the participants in Scholars of Excellence weekend, visits with enrollment counselor Ronnie Smith. (Photo by Matthew Diggs)
Jonathan Boyd (left), of Jackson, Tenn., one of the participants in Scholars of Excellence weekend, visits with enrollment counselor Ronnie Smith. (Photo by Matthew Diggs)

JACKSON, Tenn.March 5, 2008 – The participation of 82 high school seniors in Union University’s annual Scholars of Excellence weekend is a marker of God’s providence, Union President David S. Dockery said in his welcome address to parents, faculty and staff Feb. 29.

Dockery addressed the crowd at a dinner for the parents and students who were invited to compete for the highest academic scholarships offered by Union.

“We are delighted you are here,” Dockery said. “We have prayed for you and trusted the Lord to bring you here exactly three weeks and three days the tornado hit our campus. It is a sign we have moved forward.”

Dockery also discussed the impact of the tornado that struck the campus on Feb. 5, and said the university is no longer in a crisis stage, but a recovery stage.

“We have had some glorious days in the past,” Dockery said. “We have a confidence in God’s providence that there are new vistas and new opportunities before us. We have moved out of a day-to-day focus to a more long-term plan. We believe the best days of Union University are ahead of us.”

Dockery went on to describe the new construction of the student housing complexes, for which the university broke ground on Feb. 22.

The students who were invited to the weekend met the university’s requirements of a 31 or higher on their ACT. They also are in the top 15 percent of their graduating classes and maintain a 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.

Ten of the students are National Merit finalists. In addition to local and regional students, they came from states such as California, Florida, Colorado and Michigan.

“It is a highlight of my year each Scholars of Excellence weekend as I get to know these fantastic students,” said Robbie Graves, Union’s director of undergraduate admissions and recruitment. “They are so prepared academically, they have a lot of personal depth and many have a well-developed Christian worldview and desire to make a difference in this world. I know God is going to use these students in big ways for his glory in the years to come.”

Throughout the weekend, the students participated in a number of events, including a movie and discussion at the homes of faculty and staff members on the evening of Feb. 29.

“The purpose of the movie night with faculty is to instill and work on shaping the students’ Christian worldview,” Graves said.

Later in the evening, students spent time getting to know one another at a coffee fellowship hosted at The Barn at Fellowship Bible Church in Jackson.

On the morning of March 1, faculty members conducted personal interviews with the students, followed by two small-group book discussions.

“We are shaped by a mission that Union University is called to promote Christ-centered education that develops character and excellence,” Dockery said. “We have a broad array of academic programs. We have the kind of specialized resources that make us distinctive. We are able to touch culture and engage society.”

All students who took part in the weekend’s activities earned at least a half-scholarship to the university. The students will learn what other scholarships they receive in about two weeks.

“It was really exciting,” said Bri Hansen from Little Rock, Ark., who participated in Scholars Weekend. “I really enjoyed getting to know all the other students. The best part was that if I came to Union, I would know at least 15 people.”

By Megan McMurry ('09) and Sarah McBroom ('09)

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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