Skip to main content

Not Alone in the Lone Star State

by Brandon Dawson
Freshman Scholar Advisory Board Member


Brandon Dawson is a 2016 MVS scholar sponsored by Dover, Del., Lodge No. 1903. He will begin classes at Duke University in Fall 2016 as an Environmental Science and Policy major. In high school, Brandon was highly involved in musical theater, served as President of the National Honor Society, and started his own honey selling business: The Bee’s Knees Honey.
As a high school senior frantically searching for the means to finance my education, I stumbled upon a seemingly normal scholarship from none other than the Elks National Foundation. Little did I know that turning in my application at the local Lodge would send me on a journey to Houston; a journey that is far from over.

After being selected as one of the 500 national finalists for the Most Valuable Student Scholarship, I was eager to await the results of the Top 20 who would be attending the Leadership Weekend in Chicago. Unfortunately, I was not selected to attend and believed my time with the Elks to be over.

Later down the road, I received an email informing me that I was eligible to apply for the Elks Scholar Advisory Board. The more I looked into it, the more excited I became to try and continue working with such a charitable organization. Luckily, I was selected as the Freshman Representative and one of my first responsibilities was to attend the Elks National Convention in Houston.

On the plane ride to Houston, my mind was full of excitements, curiosities, and worries. Before the National Convention, my only exposure to the Elks was a small meeting at my local Lodge to accept the scholarship. I was extremely nervous that my lack of experience with the organization would hinder my ability to connect with Elks from around the country.

These fears were quickly refuted as I began to meet the other members of the Advisory Board and ENF staff.


Since becoming an Elks scholar, I noticed that the hashtag #ElksFamily was prevalent on many social media accounts of current and past Elks scholars. Yet, it wasn’t apparent to me what that truly meant until I walked into the convention hall in Houston and saw members from every state in the US happily mingling and speaking to each other as if they’ve known each other forever, though they only meet once a year. 

The same hospitality applied to the Elks scholars as well. Members from all over were so eager to speak with scholars and learn about their stories. To me, seeing a Lodge member from New Mexico and an Elks scholar from Wisconsin meet for the first time and laugh with each other like old friends is the true meaning of #ElksFamily.




During the opening session, numerous speakers used the term “more than just…” to describe various aspects of the ENF; “more than just a scholarship,” “more than just volunteering,” or “more than just a convention.” Yet this phrase couldn’t ring truer when it comes to the opportunities the Elks National Foundation provides to individuals of all ages across the country. I am proud to call myself an Elks scholar and can’t wait to see what these next four years on the Scholar Advisory Board will bring.

Bio: Brandon Dawson is a 2016 MVS scholar sponsored by Dover, Del., Lodge No. 1903. He will begin classes at Duke University in Fall 2016 as an Environmental Science and Policy major. In high school, Brandon was highly involved in musical theater, served as President of the National Honor Society, and started his own honey selling business: The Bee’s Knees Honey.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Serving by the Blue Ridge Mountains

by Gabriella Haire 2015 Most Valuable Student Scholar
My name is Gabriella Haire and I am a junior studying biomedical engineering at the University of Minnesota. Beyond dreaming up medical innovations, I enjoy volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, training for cross country ski races, and exploring new cities one ice cream shop at a time.

Following a typical track practice in March 2015, I received an atypical email. It was an invitation to the Elks Most Valuable Student Leadership Weekend and the promise of an Elks National Foundation scholarship. I was elated as I celebrated in the locker room, but I didn’t fully realize how that email and the Leadership Weekend were just the beginning of my relationship with the Elks.
After a physics lecture in November 2015, I received an email confirming my acceptance to the Winter Elks Scholar Service Trip in Oakland, California. I was eager to connect with Elks scholars for a whole week, rather than just a weekend. As it turned out, a week w…

What I'll Remember Most

by Cullen Edens
2016 Most Valuable Student Scholar Cullen, along with 19 other scholars, came together to serve the San Antonio community in the name of the Elks from June 26 to June 29. These 20 scholars then joined 130 of their fellow scholars for the 150 for 150 Service and Celebration Weekend, where all 150 scholars worked together to serve the city of San Antonio from June 29 through July 2. 



My name is Cullen Edens and I am a junior at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma where I am majoring in Accounting. When I was selected as an Elks Most Valuable Student scholar, I simply thought I would collect my award and move on with my college education. I had no idea the impact that the Elks National Foundation would have on my life.
In late June, I traveled to San Antonio not knowing that this service trip would transform the way I viewed the communities around me. Arriving at Trinity University, I met 19 other Elks scholars from across the country from Maine to California. We instan…

Show Me the Heat

by Billy Donnelly Youth Programs Associate
While low temperatures afflict most of the United States in January and February, things are really starting to heat up for the Hoop Shoot. In gyms all across the country, Hoop Shoot contestants have been competing in state contests--another stop on the road to Chicago.
This year I had the privilege of attending the Missouri State Hoop Shoot contest, just outside of St. Louis. Randy Eaton has been the Show-Me State’s Director for more than 30 years, but after all that time, you can tell he has not lost his fire and passion for the program.
I left a looming snow storm in Chicago, happily heading south to help out with Randy’s event. It didn’t take long after my arrival before we could start to get to work. The hotel was practically ready to go—a Holiday Inn with an arcade and a large indoor pool meant that the 48 best free-throw shooters in Missouri weren’t going to have to go far to have some fun.
Randy took me to go help set up for the Awar…