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New fellowship emphasizes summer service learning project | Arts & Culture

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New fellowship emphasizes summer service learning project
New fellowship emphasizes summer service learning project

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — A new fellowship at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts will assist students conducting summer service learning projects, benefitting their home communities.

The ASMSA Trustees’ Service Fellowship is awarded to a rising senior each year. The student selected for the fellowship will receive a $600 grant toward their service project. The project must be completed during the summer between their junior and senior year at ASMSA. The student will give a public presentation on their project during their senior year.

The fellowship is named in honor of the trustees who first served as a guiding entity for the school. When ASMSA was established in 1991, an advisory board served under the authority of the Arkansas Department of Education. In 1995, the Arkansas General Assembly established a Board of Trustees to oversee the policies and administration of the school at the request of the current advisory board members.  Gov. Jim Guy Tucker appointed the first Board of Trustees to serve as the governing body of the school and charged with creating policies and procedures for the operation of the School.

“We started from scratch,” said Dr. Johnnie Roebuck, a longtime public school educator and former state representative from Arkadelphia who was among the first seven trustees appointed by Tucker. “We met long hours and worked diligently to make sure the policy fit the vision of the school.  It was not an easy task but one we took very seriously knowing our work would decide the future operation of the school and affect all students, faculty and staff.  Those of us who served on the Board of Trustees became like a family totally committed to the success of the school.”

The Board of Trustees was dissolved in 2004 when the school joined the University of Arkansas System, and a Board of Visitors now acts as an advisory board.

Recently, Roebuck and other trustees wanted to do something for the school that would honor the work and commitment of those early trustees who built the foundation for the school.  Vicki Hinz, ASMSA director of institutional advancement, and ASMSA Director Corey Alderdice suggested creating an endowment that would benefit students directly, Roebuck said.

“Instead of a traditional scholarship, we wanted to create a way for students to give back to their home communities through service,” Roebuck said.  “We are hopeful this fellowship will continue to attract donors and students will consider it a great honor to be selected as recipients.”

Roebuck initially announced plans for the fellowship at the Director’s Circle Dinner held in October.

Hinz said the fellowship is a fitting honor for those early board members who gave so much of their time and energy to make the school the success into which it has grown.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Dr. Johnnie Roebuck and other individuals who invested time, energy and passion in realizing a vision of exceptional experiences for many of our state’s most promising young minds,” Hinz said.

“Their leadership helped establish a strong foundation for success that has led to ASMSA being recognized nationally for its quality program and clear commitment to providing students from across Arkansas dynamic opportunities in advanced STEM and arts disciplines.”

Roebuck said an important aspect of the fellowship is for the recipient to complete a project that benefits their hometown or home school. By adding that requirement, it ensures that the recipient recognizes where they developed the academic foundation that allowed them to come to ASMSA. “It is the support of the home schools which allows students to succeed at ASMSA,” Roebuck said.

“This fellowship will bring recognition to the school, as well as to the student, while saying to the student’s hometown:  ‘I haven’t forgotten you. I’m coming home to give back, because you are the reason I got to go to ASMSA,’ ” she said.

Encouraging students to develop a service project as part of the fellowship also honors the service of the board members, Hinz said.

“Drawing inspiration from their service to ASMSA, the Trustees’ Service Fellowship will assist young adults to make an immediate impact while developing their own capacity for service and leadership. ASMSA owes a huge debt of gratitude to these visionaries. By creating this fellowship, we can honor the investments of the past and the good work that remains ahead,” Hinz said.

Roebuck said it is important for those who have donated to or might want to give toward the fellowship endowment to know that it is not a scholarship. When a student receives the fellowship, they have a responsibility for service. That means donors will be able to see a result from their gift, she said.

“You’re going to hear about these students. You’re going to read about them. You’re going to know that your money is invested in service. It’s a whole different concept of how we reward students,” Roebuck said.