San Diego State’s Mortar Board Chapter awarded its first ever Merit Scholarship recently. It will be awarded annually to juniors that represent the organization’s standard of leadership, scholarship and service.
The Jane K. Smith Cap and Gown Chapter of Mortar Board split the scholarship between sociology junior Trevor Auldridge and speech, language and hearing sciences junior Makayla Bradford.
Both of the recipients were active in numerous organizations and honors societies, often taking leadership roles, and both explained that they were interested in public service.
Bradford is the secretary of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, the diversity chair of the SDSU Residence Hall Association Programming Board and has volunteered for Rady Children’s Hospital and the American Cancer Society: Making Strides of San Diego. She has done this while maintaining her academics and attaining other honors.
Auldridge has presented his research at academic meetings, and is currently vice president of the Religious Explorations Club, director of communications for the SDSU Honors Council, and was director of outreach and research for Learning Bridge of the Sierra and a teaching assistant for English classes while in Chile.
“We made the scholarship to reward a junior that best represents our ideals,” international business senior and President of the SDSU Mortar Board Chapter Maxwell Louie said. “We thought it the best way to pay it forward to SDSU, and to raise awareness of Mortar Board.”
Auldridge talked about the significance of the award for him.
“This, in particular is important, because our Mortar Board is one of the best Mortar Boards in the nation, and it means a lot to be recognized by such a prestigious organization,” Auldridge said. “Also, the fact that they decided to give some of their funds is both admirable and interesting.”
The money for the scholarship came from the chapter’s endowment fund. Psychology senior and Mortar Board Scholarship Chair Tenille Taggart did much of the planning for the scholarship and the evaluation of applicants.
“We made the scholarship to encourage students to keep going with their career and to apply to Mortar Board as well,” Taggart said. “By raising awareness, we hope to get the most qualified applicants we can.”
The small size of the group, which only takes in 40 seniors each year, means that it could get lost on a campus as big as SDSU, she said. This is a way to ensure that prospective Mortar Board members take notice.
The merit scholarships were presented in person, a surprise to the two winners.
“We surprised them, we actually showed up in one of their classes and came dressed in the mortar board cap and gown,” Taggart said. “They didn’t know they had won, so it was really a surprise. It was a really cool experience.”
Taggart noted that scholarships such as Mortar Board’s play an important part in many student’s academic careers. For an adult reentry student such as herself, a college education would be impossible without scholarships and financial help.
“I just think it is such an important part of education and moving forward with your life and career,” Taggart said.
Taggart explained that Mortar Board has helped her in her career.
“I just know that it’s really worth it to apply and get involved because once you get into something like this it just builds upon what you’ve already done and makes everything easier to obtain,” she said. “It’s been really beneficial in that aspect. Plus, you get to know some awesome people. It’s a really great career builder, profession builder and network builder. It’s a really great experience overall.”