Park Scholars are selected, in part, because of their leadership potential and commitment to service. During their four years at NC State, they learn to apply modern leadership theories and they frequently undertake official roles within the university and local community. Each class of Park Scholars participates in a series of enrichment experiences intended to advance their personal and professional development in scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Park Scholars serve on committees to plan and execute many of these experiences, with the assistance of Park Faculty Scholars and staff.
Prior to the start of the academic year, each new class of Park Scholars travels to the Blue Ridge Mountains to participate in a retreat. Park Faculty Scholars facilitate discussions on a shared reading experience. Upperclass Park Scholars work in small groups to prepare the class to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by the Park program and NC State. The class also participates in challenges, both on the ground and on high ropes, which hone skills such as teamwork and communication.
The First-Year Seminar establishes a framework for the leadership and service aspects of the Park Scholarships experience. In the course, students receive an introduction to the great challenges facing society and learn to address these challenges using a range of solutions. Last year, the Park Scholars delved into topics ranging from the challenges and successes associated with developing cochlear implants to the role creativity plays in the 21st century workforce.
Learning Laboratory I
Learning Laboratory I is an annual experience designed and implemented by Park Scholars in the first-year class. This educational program allows students to learn about leadership through the exploration of an issue facing the state of North Carolina. The Class of 2016 traveled to sites in Boone, Pittsboro, and Raleigh to study the theme of energy innovation in North Carolina. Students interacted with leaders across the state currently involved with developing conventional and alternative energy solutions.
Learning Laboratory II
The Learning Laboratory II field experience allows students to develop a critical understanding of national and global issues by interacting with leaders immersed in these issues. The Class of 2015 visited Washington, D.C. to explore the impact that an average citizen can have on policy-making decisions at the federal level. Through focusing on areas including the media, advocacy, and the legislative process, students gained a deeper understanding of how citizens can influence their government. Park Scholars participated in conversations with individuals representing organizations and government entities such as the Center for Public Integrity, PolitiFact, the Supreme Court, and the United States Congress.
Civic Engagement Initiatives
Civic Engagement Initiatives introduce Park Scholars to community needs and the ways in which local agencies operate to address those needs. Working in small groups, students collaborate with nonprofit and governmental organizations and take an active role in developing creative strategies and implementing solutions for issues ranging from homelessness to domestic violence.
The Leadership Academy is an intensive program where Park Scholars gain insight into the various styles of leadership, and develop a deeper understanding of their own leadership style. Following the workshop, Park Scholars interview leaders in their fields of study where they connect theory with practice. Previous interviewees have included individuals such as Bernard Amadei, founding president of Engineers Without Borders and professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado; Nils Daulaire, director of the Office of Global Health Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Representative to the Executive Board of the World Health Organization; and Eddie Hays, vice president of science at The Coca Cola Company.
The senior retreat is one of the culminating events during the final year of the Park Scholarships experience. Each year, the senior class of Park Scholars selects one of America’s national parks as the setting for their retreat. The experience provides class members with a unique opportunity to reflect on their time in the Park Scholarships program and at NC State, while establishing priorities for the future.