The Park Scholarships Diversity Student Task Force has compiled profiles of Park Scholars, Park Faculty Scholars, and Selection Committee Members designed to give prospective students insight about the Park Scholarships program, the selection process, and how scholars made the decision to join the Wolfpack.
Name: Trenton Wallis
Hometown: Lillington, NC
Class Year: 2022
Major: Electrical Engineering
Role within Park Scholarships: Park Scholar
1. Tell us a little more about who you are, your background, and identity.
My name is Trenton Wallis and I am a third-year student at NC State University studying electrical engineering. I come from a small farming community in Lillington, North Carolina. One of the biggest components of my identity is being a twin! It completely encompasses my entire life and I deal with it in most of my social interactions. I was born and raised in a small “dirt road” community in Chino Valley, Arizona, and lived there for 10 years. I consider myself to be competitive, a leader, and a collaborator.
2. What are you involved with on/off-campus? What are you passionate about?
I recently co-hosted TEDxNCState on campus in February 2020. To do this, I started my own club which now has a whopping 13 members! I have had the amazing opportunity to develop my leadership and management skills through launching the club and growing it where it is today.
I am also involved with the College of Engineering in two ways. First, I am an Engineering Ambassador (EA). EAs represent the College of Engineering by giving tours, leading information sessions, and hosting STEM nights in the local community. The second way I support the College of Engineering is by being an Engineering Career Fair Coordinator. I help manage the second-largest engineering career fair in the nation right here at NC State.
One of my biggest passions is starting things. Once an idea gets in my head, I can’t get it out until I do it. It is one of the main reasons I started my own club right here at NC State. Whether it’s physically creating something, bringing people together, or some combination, this is what drives me. I love to see the results of something I’ve put my time and effort into make people happy in the end.
3. Why did you decide to choose NC State and the Park Scholarships program? What interested you the most about the Park Scholarships program as a high schooler?
The biggest factor in why I chose NC State was the amazing programs and opportunities available through the College of Engineering. In high school, I was a founding member of a FIRST Robotics team. That piqued my interest in the world of creating and designing things. It inspired me to pursue a career as an engineer and I knew that NC State has the best facilities, people, and opportunities out there.
Two things stuck out to me about the Park Scholarships program. The first was the appeal of being around other hardworking students with passion and goals. I knew it would be an enormous privilege to be around scholars who are the cream of the crop in their local communities and saw it as a brilliant way to surround myself with people who had the motivation and dedication to drive their vision to reality.
Second, the Park Scholarships program has a deep alumni network, many opportunities to receive funding from the program, and most of all, I knew being a Park Scholar would give me time. I wanted the chance to open up my schedule. Getting a full ride opened my mental space and gave me time that I would have spent either working or going to a community college (and working). I love to seek out opportunities and create things. Without the Park Scholarship, I know my life would have been just work and school.
The Park Scholarship gave me the opportunity to spend my time on my passions and increase my dedication to quality and expansive learning. It has given me the freedom to take risks on my extracurriculars and the time to form meaningful connections with people.
4. How did you find out about the Park Scholarships program?
I found out about the Park Scholarship Program through meeting a Park Scholar who helped start my robotics team and through my guidance counselor asking if I wanted to apply to the program.
5. In high school, what were you most proud to share in your application?
I was very proud of the time spent on my robotics team and went into great length on my application about the team dynamics and successes and failures I went through. I would say one of my proudest moments in high school was teaching a class during my sophomore year while I was taking it.
6. What fear(s) did you have while applying to the Park Scholarships program? Have you found them to be true?
My biggest fear was not getting it. It was extremely hard to gauge how well I did on each interview and in the group activities. It was a huge deal in my high school that I advanced as far as I did and everyone was counting on me. It was the most pressure I have had in my entire life.
Once I got here, I really feared being at the bottom of the Park class in terms of achievements and how impactful our high school activities had been. I felt that I was not going to be as well equipped to create success as many of my peers in the Park program. I would say that it is half true.
I am over my fear of “being at the bottom,” because I learned that the world doesn’t work like that. Each person has a different amount of success both in intensity/quality and quantity. The real screwball is that each of these successes is also subjective to the person viewing them. A lot of “success” is defined by the people who think you are successful. Someone may be more successful than someone else according to one person and the opposite according to a different person. I have learned to critique my own success because that is the only thing that remains constant in my life.
The truth I did find was that I was not as equipped for college and finding opportunities as some other students. This is just purely due to the resources available to me at my high school and the lack of knowledge of how to find rewarding opportunities. I still somewhat struggle with this today.
7. What advice might you give a high-schooler who is considering applying for the Park Scholarship?
Use risk management to the fullest. Statistically you won’t get it. I didn’t think I would, and I would say I am both extremely fortunate and lucky that I did. Life is just not fair, so have plans B, C, and D. The only way to soften the edge of failures and future mishaps is to prepare. I was an alternate for the Park Scholarship so I had to sit down and plan out what I would do with my life if I didn’t get it. This helped me manage my stress immensely and I had the significant benefit of having backup plans.
8. Is there a certain pillar that particularly resonates with you? Why?
Yes, the scholarship pillar resonates with me the most. I think the main function of college is to obtain knowledge in a specified field. It is also the one I am most proud of and base my self-esteem on.
9. What do you value most about fellow Park Scholars? What might you hope to see in prospective scholars?
I really value the diversity of majors and passions. Outside of Park Scholarships, I do not get to talk to students with other majors that often and when I do, it’s not causal conversation about what you are passionate about. Hearing from Park Scholars gives me reassurance that we can make a difference. The world in is good hands with so many people having so many good aspirations.
What I hope to see in future Park Scholars are opportunity enthusiasts: students who seek out opportunities and when they can’t find them, make their own. I feel like I received the Park Scholarship for my passion to create and make opportunities for myself. I would love to see that drive in other Park Scholars in the future.
10. Can you share an important college experience that was made possible by the program?
One of the best college experiences the program has given me is Final Selection Activities when the Park Scholarships Finalists come to NC State. It is one of the most fun nights on campus. Having the chance to meet new potential scholars and hear the backstories of so many passionate and bright minds is absolutely amazing. Fun activities like giving tours, painting the tunnels, and other activities make it great. I still have a great bond with the Finalist I hosted last year and thankfully he was selected as a Park Scholar.
11. What have you learned about the Park Scholarships program since becoming a scholar that was surprising or that you weren’t expecting?
What surprised me the most was how much I have learned about running a scholarship program! It is much more complicated than I initially realized and something I didn’t really think about before I was in the program. From the management of the program itself, the development of student-faculty relationships, and how many small and big tasks are needed for everything to run smoothly is astounding. There is pressure in being part of an esteemed program, but I am sure there are magnitudes more on the people who run it.