Thursday, August 11, 2011

Elks Scholars Meet Under the Sun

By Maryann Slater, Elks Scholar Advisory Board Member

My name is Maryann Slater and this year I am the Elks Scholar Advisory Board Freshman Representative. The SAB’s job is to brainstorm ways to enhance the Elks Scholar experience. It was such an honor to be accepted to the SAB, and I was both excited and nervous to participate in the annual SAB meeting in Phoenix during the Elks National Convention.

I am a Legacy scholar. Both of my parents are Elks members and I have grown up around the Elks. I’m so fortunate to have been able to see first hand what a generous and caring organization the Elks is. I was so eager to take my place on the Board because I would get to give back to the Elks and be involved in my own way. With the support of my parents’ lodges, I couldn’t wait to dive into an Elks-filled weekend.
Friday night of convention we met to discuss the weekend’s plans, introduce ourselves, and meet ENF staff. Each person I met was just as nice as the one before! The staff members were so interested in hearing about our college plans. It was nice to see that as much as we wanted to work with them, they wanted to work with us and valued our opinions. We received our schedule for the weekend and were excited to see that we would be attending an Arizona Diamondbacks game as well as a Mexican Fiesta!

Later that night we had the privilege of speaking with several ENF donors, all of whom congratulated us on our scholarships and asked us about our college experience. At the Diamondbacks game I found that many of the members of the Board are MVS scholars, and their involvement with the Elks began with their scholarship. Because I have a different background, it was nice to talk to kids my own age about the Elks and hear about their experiences.

The next night we got to experience a Mexican Fiesta at Corona Ranch. There, we had the honor of mingling with many ENF donors. It was great to meet people from all over the country who were passionate about the same things we are—the Elks and the ENF. It was also gratifying to be able to thank these donors first hand for funding programs such as our scholarships. And it didn’t hurt that we got to do the electric slide with them!

The weekend wasn’t all baseball games and fiestas, though. Throughout the weekend we met to discuss how we could enhance the Elks scholar experience. Because I was the newest member, I wasn’t even sure what the Elks scholar experience was! I was so glad to find out that receiving a scholarship from the Elks is unlike any other scholarship. Once you become an Elks scholar, you have a connection with other students all over the country! Then, once you find the other Elks scholars on your campus, you can make a difference in your community in the name of the Elks. I realized the Elks isn’t just an organization for my parents. Now, even before you’re 21 you can get involved as an Elks scholar and make a difference!

My favorite part of the weekend was meeting and talking with the other Scholar Advisory Board members. We were all so different, yet we have this connection with the Elks that brought us together. When I get to school and meet up with Elks scholars on my campus, I’ll get to meet even more people from all different backgrounds.

I can’t say it enough—thanks ENF! Thanks ENF donors! And thanks to the Elks for all you have done and continue to do in the country today. And for any Elks scholars who might be reading this—you’re a part of something bigger than you realize! Take the opportunity to make a difference on your campus and give back to an organization that’s helping to fund your college experience!

To enhance scholar relations and communication, the Elks Scholar Advisory Board was founded in 2009. For more information about the Elks Scholar Advisory Board, please visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars/scholaradvisoryboard.cfm.

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