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, the incoming class of Park Scholars participates in a retreat typically held in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Park Faculty Scholars facilitate discussions on a shared reading experience. This year’s selection is Just Mercy. Upperclass Park Scholars help small groups of freshmen prepare to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by the Park Scholarships program and NC State. The class also participates in challenges to hone teamwork and communication skills.
A weekly Freshman Seminar provides students valuable connections with all current Park Faculty Scholars, as well as with the diverse resources available at NC State. Last year, students honed their professional skills and delved into complex topics ranging from natural disaster preparedness to complex discussions around integrity, to best practices for being an engaged voter. Guest speakers included the NC Department of Public Safety’s Director of Emergency Management Michael Sprayberry and NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson.
Learning Lab I
Learning Lab I, an annual experience designed and implemented by freshman Park Scholars, affords students insight into leadership through the lens of a challenge currently facing North Carolina. The Class of 2023 explored how leaders are handling the affordable housing crisis, both as individuals and through collaboration with other community members and organizations. The Class of 2024 examined how leaders in various sectors work together to address complex health care challenges facing communities across the state.
Learning Lab II
The Learning Lab 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 2022 traveled to Washington, D.C. to examine cross-disciplinary approaches within the United States to mass incarceration reform. The Class of 2023 will analyze the U.S. education system and learn how leaders are implementing policies to improve equity and access to education at all levels.
Civic Engagement Initiatives
Civic Engagement Initiatives (CEIs) introduce Park Scholars to community needs and how organizations operate to address those needs, create beneficial community change, and teach Park Scholars skills they can use to make lifelong community contributions. Under the guidance of a junior or senior Park Scholar, sophomore Park Scholars work in small groups during the fall and spring semesters to implement solutions to community challenges.
The Leadership Academy is a comprehensive, four-year program through which Park Scholars gain insight into theories and practical applications of leadership and develop a deeper understanding of their own leadership style. Topics addressed are relevant to leadership across a variety of fields and organizations, including both the for-profit and non-profit sectors.
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 travels to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado 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.