Andy Okuley and Linnae Budusky, two incoming DeSales University freshmen, have received leadership scholarships, a full-tuition award given to students who have displayed exceptional leadership during the course of their secondary schooling.
This is the first year the scholarship was awarded, created as a way to recognize students for distinctions in work and activities outside of the classroom. To be eligible, prospective students were asked to submit a maximum 500 word essay describing their leadership experience through one of six traits, including courage, humanity, justice, temperance, wisdom, and transcendence. Twenty-five finalists were then selected from the pool of applicants.
“We didn’t know what the response would be, and we got more than 250 essays,” said Derrick Wetzel, director of undergraduate admissions. “All of the 25 finalists showed a diversity of leadership experience in their essays.”
Finalists were interviewed individually during the University’s scholarship day on January 31 by a panel of administrators, including Dr. Gerard Joyce, vice president of student life, Linda Zerbe, dean of students, Dr. Gregg Amore, associate dean of students, and Chad Serfass, director of the DeSales Experience.
“We were essentially looking for students who have leadership characteristics, and we’re hopeful that their leadership translates to DeSales University and they get involved in Character U and other things on campus,” Wetzel said.
Okuley wrote his essay around humanity and how he came to know its importance over the course of his high school career. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Okuley attends the city’s Oblate-run St. Francis de Sales High School, where he is a member of the baseball team. In the relief of hindsight, the incoming freshman admitted he nearly forgot to apply for the scholarship.
“I was getting ready for our winter dance when I remembered it was the last day to submit the essay,” he said. “My date was probably waiting for me, but I’d say it was worth it.”
Okuley plans to major in sport and exercise science when he begins his academic journey in the fall.
A little closer to Center Valley, Budusky hails from Lancaster, Pa., where she will graduate from Lancaster Catholic High School this spring. The senior is active in theatre and directs a non-profit theatre camp for children during her summers. Like Okuley, she also wrote her essay on humanity.
“I wrote about humanity being the foundation for all other traits,” Budusky said. “To me, leadership is the ability to find a common ground and to make a connection that links us all as humans.”
Upon arrival in August, Budusky plans to major in TV/film and minor in business.
“We’ve always talked about character, we’ve always talked about leadership in everything we do, and how it’s a big part of the experience at DeSales,” Wetzel said. “And we want that to continue. We’re starting to recognize students that show outstanding leadership.”
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